Long Story Short

Ben Evans and Pearl Sun
A new musical with a score by Groovelily's Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda is premiering at Pittsburgh's City Theatre this month. Long Story Short is based on the play An Infinite Ache by David Schulner, and takes us through the relationship of Hope (Pearl Sun) and Charles (Ben Evans), from beginning to end.

The show begins with the end of their first date, back at Ben's apartment, in the bedroom. He's new to Los Angeles and he's nervous; he wants to impress Hope but he's a little on the awkward side. She's confident and not interested in a relationship. It's clear they're destined to be together, and together they are, over decades, in marriage and out, growth and rediscovery, with joys and losses—and it all "happens in a moment" in this one room.

The score consists of more than a dozen songs, touching on all of the emotions, up and down, encountered throughout the tale. The music is varied, yet has a consistency that is appropriate for the story, and the lyrics are fitting, clever and touching. Early on, "It Happens In a Moment" is catchy and fun; about midway comes "Empowered," a very funny (as staged) "girl power" song; and "Letting Go" ties things up with affection and poignancy.

Sun and Evans work well with the score to create two quirky yet familiar, imperfect and appealing people. Playing characters over a period of years is difficult, and it's a plus that director Tracy Brigden decided not to bother with makeup and hair changes. The lighting and the actors' performances depict the progression just fine. In fact, in a flashback at the end, we're suddenly reminded of how much the characterizations have matured throughout the show. Sun, particularly, shows tremendous growth and change in her character; Evans is a little overly goofy in the first scenes, but is very good in the "later years."

The apartment is cozy and not upscale, and Neil Patel has designed the bedroom set appropriately. With Andrew David Ostrowski's excellent lighting and a few prop changes, we can see that things change subtly throughout the relationship.

Long Story Short is a somewhat "light" show; it's not life-changing or earth-shattering. But it's a thoughtful and well presented story of real love that will tug on your emotions and have you leaving the theatre with a smile.

Long Story Short at the City Theatre through November 16. For performance and ticket information, call 412.431.CITY (2489) or visit www.citytheatrecompany.org/.

Photo: Suellen Fitzsimmons

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-- Ann Miner

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