Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Goin' Dot Com! The Musical
Goin' Dot Com! - The Musical, with songs by Chris Thomas and James Walz and book by Phil Schaaf, is playing at the Eureka Theatre through August 9th. The musical farce has one of the most vibrant casts of talented young singers seen on the stage this year. While other musical theatre companies are presenting such warhorses as The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! or Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, this lively upbeat musical takes the other route to present a cutting edge farce.
Goin' Dot Com! was first started by a group of young actor-singers who had been involved in the world of dot-com. They decided to present a fun little musical about the founding of a fictitious "clicks-with-no-speck-of-mortar" Internet start-up called www.rentalpuppy.com (yes, there's a real website). The main purpose of the online service would be for men to rent adorable wet-nosed puppies in order to meet women (what woman wouldn't want to meet a guy with a little puppy?). And the guy would have all the attributes of the little dog. The visionaries behind the project are Jason (Brett Milan Gajda), his girlfriend Stacey (Anna Kristina) and their two ding-a-ling buddies Chuck (Steve Whyte) and Al (Eli Newsom), who meet at Starbucks (where else?) to discuss a business plan on launching the web site.
Jason and Stacy secure venture capital from the firm of Obfusk (David Abad) and Doop (Eric Starker), who see some potential in this novel idea. They hire new economy consultant Brandon (David Draffin) whose company is called "Evisione." There is even an omniscient investment banker, Stan Ford (Kevin Cadogan), straight out of Enron and WorldCom and lurking in the background. The fearless gang instigates the website by having a no-expense-spared launch party to take their company public. They are on the great new "super highway" and believe they will be the new Internet moguls. The group breaks out in a song that sounds like it is straight out of a 50s musical, called "Dot Com Superstars."
Jason, Stacy, Chuck and Al see smooth sailing ahead as they watch the stock price go up and up and up, and you get the idea that you are hearing the song "And the Money Came Rolling In" from Evita, only with a rock beat. The bubble bursts and the company revenues remain in a persistently elusive state. The puppy company, which never had any little puppies, has to reinvent itself and build its brand (cue the great song "Build the Brand," sung with great gusto by Brett Milan Gajda aided by the chorus of young entrepreneurs). The company finally has to resort to the dreaded "Reduction-In-Force" and then permanent shut down.
Chris Thomas and James Walz' songs are fresh and catchy with some very clever lyrics that many Internet users will recognize, though you don't have to be acquainted with buzz words like "Let's take it offline," IPO, Yahoo, launch bench, portals and hits to enjoy the musical. There are various styles of music, from a real old fashioned hoedown that looks like Oklahoma! to a great torch song called "Stacy's Song," featuring sultry Anna Kristina with mike in hand singing her heart out. There is even a little of a Rodgers and Hammerstein melody with clever lyrics to the melody of "Do Re Mi." The whole production is a high tech sequel to How to Succeed in Business, or one might say, "How Not to Succeed in Business." This wonderfully silly musical headed by an energetic cast cleverly parodies the dot-com nostalgia.
Anna Kristina is outstanding in the role of Stacey. She is primary known for singing with her band through the past seven years, but she is now on the acting track. She has a scorching voice and the look and manner of Joanna Gleason. Her romantic partner Jason, played by New York and Toronto singer Brett Milan Gajda, has a great voice, especially in his duets with Anna. New York actor Eli Newsom as Al and New York and Los Angeles singer Steve Whyte as Chuck are first class as the knuckleheads of the dot-com organization. Newsom has loose limbs when moving in choreographed numbers by Stephanie Saunders.
David Draffin plays the crafty consultant Brandon. However, his big song, "The Consultant," which has very clever lyrics, was hard to understand on opening night because he was not using the hand mike close to his mouth. Kevin Cadogan is like a wheeler dealer who might be going to federal prison some day. David Abad as Obfusk and Eric Starker as Doop look like characters from Men in Black. The cast also includes The Gibbon (a furry puppet) and a cute dog named Blossom.
Goin' Dot Com! - The Musical has a talented, young, energetic cast that can sing and dance. Stephanie Saunders, Simone Goldstine, Erin Daimantides, Andrew McClain, Chisty Zeri and Joel Graycar take on many roles to make this fast paced musical a little gem. The 10-piece office band, under the direction of James Walz, rocks the house with their energetic music. Director David Kazanjian keeps the action moving fast with smooth scene changes.
Goin' Dot Com! - The Musical plays through August 9 at the Eureka Theatre, Jackson Street at Golden Gate Center, San Francisco. For tickets go online at www.goindotcom.com.