Review: ‘My Life Is a Musical’ a Discordant Joy at Bay Street Theater

With a talented cast, a strong script and score and delightfully energetic direction by Marlo Hunter, My Life Is a Musical will likely win over even the most cynical theatergoer by the final curtain call.

Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts closes out its 2014 Mainstage season with the world premiere production written and scored by Adam Overett.

My Life Is a Musical tells the story of Parker, a square, shy young accountant who just wants to go through life quietly and without drama. Unfortunately, Parker was born with a strange quirk—he sees life as a musical. People randomly break into song, incidental music can be heard from out of nowhere, and only Parker notices. Having learned to hide this strange problem, Parker is content to go about his life without friendship or connection to complicate things, until his boss sends him on an indie rock band’s bus tour to help their manager get into the black. Parker, who already has trouble telling when people are actually singing or just in his head, dreads the assignment, and wonders how he’s going to be of any help to the band, which is managed by JT, an optimistic young woman with little financial know-how and led by Zach, a dimwitted singer-songwriter who is skirting by on his good looks. But when Parker suggests lyrics to Zach from his everyday life and they turn out to be a hit, Parker starts to feel good about himself for the first time—and starts to develop feelings for JT.

The cast, led by Howie Michael Smith as Parker, is uniformly excellent. Each of the eight actors in the ensemble is given something exciting and fun to do, with Brian Sills, Adam Daveline, Danyel Fulton and Wendi Bergamini playing several roles each, all with a deliriously heightened air. Smith, who plays straight man to the insanity around him, is immediately appealing and likable, while Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone is effortlessly charming as JT. Monteleone doesn’t allow JT to become a conventional ingénue, showing the character’s smarts and wisdom without making her cynical or angsty. Justin Matthew Sargent is perfect as dumb wannabe rock star Zach, who could easily become a two-dimensional caricature in the wrong hands. Sargent brings surprising warmth to Zach, making the audience sympathize with him, rather than wanting to rip his rose-colored glasses off. Finally, Robert Cuccioli often steals the show as the intense, slightly unhinged music blogger Randy. If Smith and Monteleone are the show’s grounded center, Cuccioli is the reminder of all the craziness that Parker encounters. A one-liner from Cuccioli during the climax of the story will have audiences in stitches.

Overett, who both scored and scripted My Life Is a Musical, has a bright theatrical future. His songs range from clever and wordy to soulful and poignant, while the increasingly ridiculous plot subverts musical theater conventions without mocking them. Hunter’s direction and choreography are seamless, never lowering the energy to transition from scene to scene. An attractive, abstract set by David Arsenault contributes to the fun-house-mirror tone of the show.

It’s not necessary to be a fan of musical theater to love My Life Is a Musical. With a lovely score, a positive message, a wonderful cast and a slick production, My Life Is a Musical is the perfect ending to Bay Street’s 2014 season. If this show is indicative of the new direction at Bay Street Theater, there is much to be excited for.

My Life Is a Musical runs through August 31 at Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. Performances are Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 and 7 p.m. For tickets ($62.55–$85) and more information, go to baystreet.org or call the box office at 631-725-9500.

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