THEATER | And now for something completely different: Urban Samurai's "[title of show]"

Hi, my name is Becca, and I'm an admitted theater geek. I'm not a good actor or dancer, and I can't carry a note to save my life, but put me in a dark theater with a playbill in hand and I'm as happy as can be. My friends and family know this about me—heck, even my coworkers come to me for theater tips. I'm as intrigued by Broadway stars as others are about Hollywood celebrities. If there were an US Weekly for theater, I would sign up for the two-year subscription.

Do I have a point? Yes. I know I'm in the minority with my theater obsession. While not everyone would buy Broadway Weekly, those who would will find much enjoyment from [title of show], currently being staged by Urban Samurai Productions.

[title of show], presented at the sabes jewish community center through april 30. for tickets ($14/$16) and information, see urbansamurai.org.

[Title of show] chronicles the one-act musical's own journey from New York Musical Theatre Festival entry to its off-Broadway stint and ultimately to its run on the Great White Way. The show opens as Hunter (Max Wojtanowicz) and Jeff (Adam Qualls) begin to pull together an entry for the New York Musical Theatre Festival three weeks before the deadline. Dedicated to entering an original submission, the two determine that their own interactions and conversations working on the entry would in fact make the perfect show. With that premise—and the addition of two female friends—the quirky show sets down a path of self-referential jokes, as well as name-dropping and references that a theater fan can't help but smile at.

What makes [title of show] even more intriguing is that the piece was ultimately a work in progress up until its Broadway run. The original festival entry contained only four songs and when the musical moved to Off-Broadway and then Broadway, the journey to get there—including some bumps in the road—was added into the script. Even now, references to current Broadway productions are included, making the show timely and true to its original concept.

As [title of show] creators Hunter and Jeff, Wojtanowicz and Qualls have no problem convincing the audience that they're the best of friends as they play off each other seamlessly. Wojtanowicz carefully intertwines hilarity with seriousness, while Qualls has just the right amount of neurosis and sharp wit. Both actors are in fine vocal form, which for a 90-minute musical packed with songs is an important order. As friends Susan and Heidi, Emily Jabas and Kecia Rehkamp are fun and flirty, and also pack some strong vocals. True to one of their duet titles, the two really are secondary characters in this show, but do the best with what they are given.

Making his directorial debut, Ryan Grimes is off to a good start as he juggles this fast-talking quartet. Erica Zaffarano's set is understandably minimalist, with four chairs being the major props.

At its core, [title of show] is about creation and it's incredibly entertaining to watch a play be built (with much rehearsal and precision) right before your eyes. This isn't the show for everyone. But, if you're one to enjoy musicals or the arts in general, this is a rewarding show to attend and one that isn't like anything you've seen before.

4330 Cedar Lake Rd. S.
Saint Louis Park, MN 55416
952-381-3400

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Rebecca Mitchell's picture
Becca Mitchell

Becca Mitchell (mitcreb [at] yahoo [dot] com) is a freelance arts writer for the Daily Planet.