Look Ma…No Ears!
nytheatre.com review by Josephine Cashman
April 30, 2006
Normal doesn’t sell well. Lindsey Alley, a former mouseketeer gone… normal is a frustrated actress. She didn’t become a pop star, get arrested and/or become a drug addict; she just grew up to be a singer suited for Broadway. Look Ma…No Ears! is her one-woman show playing at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. With a video screen, and cell phone “calls” from her mother, Lindsey takes us on a short yet charming journey of her life and how she really, really wants to be on Broadway.
Lindsey starts off as a small girl from a small town, and by chance falls into productions of The Sound of Music and the title role in Annie. Soon she finds herself on the The New Mickey Mouse Club for seven seasons, working alongside such other performers as Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. But when the Mouse closes down the House, Lindsey Alley grows up, packs her bag and moves to New York to pursue her dream of becoming a musical theatre actress. From there we get her misadventures in the restaurant industry, dating, and working with unsuitable agents, all with constant commentary from her mother and loving family via telephone.
Alley delineates her characters well, and her voiceover work as her mother is astonishingly good. Her mother manages to build her up and tear her down in the same breath, much to Lindsey’s comic dismay. Less successful is when she shows us a pedantic and overly long scene about her father’s misgivings about her choice of career.
Lindsey clearly has the projection and vocal ability to sing the music without a microphone and it’s ensuing reverb, and at times the volume was unnecessarily loud. Nevertheless, most of the songs have lovely melodies and funny lyrics. Most notable are the bluesy, torch-song send-up about a Stalker, the hilarious duet with her mother (via video screen) “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree,” and the sweet thank you note to her parents, “I only Hear You.” Also hilarious is her “I Am Sixteen Going on Seventeen” audition a la Britney Spears, at the behest of the casting director after he discovers her Mickey Mouse origins. Alley manages to spoof Spears’s choreography, vocal ability, costume, lip-syncing, and gyrations with aplomb.
Alley’s musical accompaniment is excellent; Brian Czach and Michael Klopp on drums, Mark Wade on bass, and pianist/music director Bob Stein, who does a standout job in both capacities. They have marvelous rapport with Alley, and it’s the musical numbers that truly shine. The lighting design by Allison Greaker and Joey Pieragowski fits the cabaret style of the show, and James Deportee’s choreography (especially the Britney Spears’s spoof) is subtle and never feels “stagy.” Michael H. Woll’s costumes are sometimes a bit complicated, but they add to the comic elements of the show.
The opening and closing numbers feel a bit too much like a “Hire Me for Broadway!” infomercial, but overall Alley is a terrific vocalist and her autobiographical show is short, sweet, and winsome.