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New Jersey by Bob Rendell

MoM A Rock Concert Musical With Suburban Appeal

MoM
Stefanie Seskin, Jane Keitel, Donna Jean Fogel, Bekka Lindström and Dana Loren McCo
As MoM A Rock Concert Musical begins, a successful rock band of five middle-aged suburban women enters the stage to take us on a journey that begins with the then unknown band's local high school concert eight years previous. It is stitched together with every cliché you have ever heard about the woes and dissatisfaction of suburban housewives, and the excesses and disintegration of successful touring rock musicians. However, for those who choose to be patient and tolerant, the very talented quintet of actor/singer/musicians provides some lively musical entertainment. The second act reenactment of their disintegration manages to emotionally and musically engage us. Their ultimate redemption (through a transformation akin to magic realism) takes the rug out from under from their show's second act momentum. There would appear to be commercial potential in this small musical, especially among suburban housewives and girls' night out groups. MoM did win the best musical award at 2009's FringeNYC. If the above has piqued your interest and you are in the neighborhood, MoM, with its gentle top ticket price of $25, is likely a good bet for you.

The above says it all.  But I'll fill up a little more space. Richard Caliban, who is responsible for the generic book, music and lyrics, has directed. The variety of his music, including Latin beats, rap and power ballads, is helpful. However, there are too many false rhymes. His staging is lively, but collaborative hands might have helped him to significantly shorten the long first act which has too many songs and repetitions of the band members' bitches about their husbands and children. While I'm being bitchy, the MoM's self pity as they drag themselves down (you know, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll) from the pinnacle of success is a complete turn-off. Show Choir (NYMF 2010), a similarly plotted show about a high school performing troupe who become international sensations, depicts the same situation without unattractive self pity.

More.  The cast is extremely talented. Dana Loren McCoy (keyboards) captures the charisma of Ingrid, the most vivid of the women. The wife of a famous cellist, whose passion is reserved for his instrument, Ingrid is a bored lady of leisure who over-imbibes from the start and goes on to hard drugs. The entire cast is on the mark. The impressive multiple instrument musician Stefanie Seskin's (saxophone, flute, bass) Catalina, whose sexually incompetent husband has to be tiptoed around as he spends his at-home time on the computer, becomes a seducer of very young men; Jane Keitel's (guitar) Nancy, a single mom tied down by her children and two jobs, and Bekka Lindström's (guitar) Melissa, who has gotten frumpy and sexually quiescent, discover their desire for one another; and Donna Jean Fogel's Karen (drums), bored at home and, lacking her band mate's peccadilloes, is also bored on the road.

Enough ... enough.

MoM A Rock Concert Musical continues performances (Thursday-Saturday 8 PM /Sunday 3 PM) through October 24, 2010, at Playwrights Theatre, 33 Green Village Road, Madison, NJ 07940; Box Office: 973-514-1787; on-line: www.ptnj.org.

MoM A Rock Concert Musical book, music and lyrics by Richard Caliban

Cast
Karen....................Donna Jean Fogel
Nancy..............................Jane Keitel
Melissa...................Bekka Lindström
Ingrid..................Dana Loren McCoy
Catalina......................Stefanie Seskin


Photo: Carol Rosegg


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- Bob Rendell



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