Ten Reasons I Won't Go Home With You
nytheatre.com review by Montserrat Mendez
July 18, 2010
There are at least ten reasons to check out Ten Reasons Why I Won't Go Home With You, the charming little musical that I saw today at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, and which completely surprised me, not because of the quality of the production (it is a bare bones festival offering) but because of the heart behind it and the potential for it to become a successful commercial offering.
Maybe it's because I am much like the heroine of the piece, in search for that perfect person to call my own in a city that moves too fast. Let's just face it: Love in the 21st century is hard. And this musical makes it all seem rather silly and at the same time poignant. Love is hard to find, but then again, isn't it completely worth it at the end?
The musical sets up a structure in which after every encounter, cast members hold up a sign explaining why that is one of the reasons our heroine will not go home with this person. It's a top ten list, and I'm going to borrow that structure to give my review.
These are the top ten reasons why you should check out this musical:
10. It has potential. I consider what I saw today a workshop production, and it still has some ways to go. But this musical has the potential for further development followed by a move to a nice small off-Broadway venue where it can charm the pants out of its audiences.
9. Here's a musical that had me grinning from the very opening number. Because deep down inside it's very innocent, naive, and yet it somehow reached that little part of me that still believes that the person I would like to be with, will be there someday, ready to be with me. There's nothing like a little hope in what can sometimes seem a very hopeless city.
8. It embraces all the cliches and doesn't apologize for them. After all, cliches are so because at some point they were all too true. This musical touches upon all of them, and even I found myself saying, "Wow, I've been there, right were you have been!"
7. Like all the best stories, it's a very specific story of one girl finding her true love. But because it is specific it feels wildly universal and that's why it works.
6. It has little pieces of unexpected wisdom, my favorite being, "just because they love you, doesn't mean they LOVE you." I don't know about anyone else in that audience, but I wanted to shout, "I know what you mean!"
5. A lovely supporting cast that is not fazed by anything. Today I saw an actor knock down a music stand and continue singing his number, while putting it together for the accompanist who kept playing without missing a beat. This was one of many little mishaps that seemed to plague the performance and could have derailed just about anyone. But not these guys; these guys were present, grounded, and totally there for each other. That's just so great to see on any level.
4. A featherweight and yet deeply affecting book that is based on a real life story. And that with careful attention to some of the things that slow it down, can fly. I love this story, it remembers that musicals are musicals because there are some feelings that you cannot just simply talk about, you sometimes have to sing them.
3. Mark Dunn, Benjamin Holmes and Ryan Stadler, who multitask as several of the heroine's crash and burn suitors; with little more than a costume change, and some tricky vocal work, these guys transformed into very specific characters. You could immediately tell when they made a switch, and in a pared-down production, where everything must happen quickly, the specificity they each paid to each character must be commended.
2. The songs. These are great little songs. And they create the sense that the show is really bigger than it is. These are all soundtrack-quality songs, with clever lyrics and real emotional depth. I was slightly disappointed by the last song "This Might Be Me," as I wanted a song that really soared and gave me a feeling of catharsis. But the song did deliver the message of the piece, without taking away from the experience.
1. Its star and creator, Kelly Nichols. If Sandra Bullock were a musical theatre actress, I would imagine she'd be exactly like Nichols, who has a similar turn of phrase, and a similar charm, and a layering in of killer singing voice, and some of the best comic timing I've seen in quite some time.
So there you have it: ten reasons why you should check out Ten Reasons I Won't Go Home With You. Is it perfect? Not at all, but check it out now, then check it out when it meets its potential at an off-Broadway run. You will probably see a lot of changes, but you will see that heart of gold I saw beating within it today. And like true love, I hope a producer finds it, dates it, falls in love, marries it, and gives it a happy life.