High Fidelity, the Broadway flop musical adaptation of the 2000 film (it ran for 32 performances only), is the perfect choice for Minneapolis Musical Theatre, whose motto is "Rare musicals. Well done." They have a knack for bringing out the best in a show and staging it in a way that works. So they're staging High Fidelity, which mostly takes place in a record store, in an actual record store! And an iconic Minneapolis record store at that - Electric Fetus. Maybe this show didn't/wouldn't play well in a traditional theater space, but in this intimate site-specific space that makes you feel like you're part of the story, it's a unique theatrical thrill. With a fantastic and hard-working 14-person cast, a rockin' band, and great use of the space, it's a sure-fire hit. With only six more performances and limited space, act fast so as not to miss out on the fun! (Click here for more info and tickets here.)
High Fidelity (book, movie, and musical) is the story of Rob, the owner of "The Last Real Record Store," and his trials and tribulations in love, life, and friendship. His girlfriend Laura has just broken up with him, prompting him to list his "Desert Island Top 5 Breakups," insisting that Laura doesn't even make the list. But you know he's in denial, and he's deeply affected by this relationship and its end, sending him down a road of self discovery and growing up. He's surrounded by a quirky group of friends, employees, and customers, including Barry who's trying to start a band and Dick who's trying to get up the nerve to ask out a customer he likes. They're all very endearing people, portrayed with great charisma (and serious pipes) by the entire ensemble, the kind of people it's a joy to spend two hours with on a Sunday evening (even if you have to stand for said two hours until your back aches).
Amanda Weiss, who's appeared onstage with MMT, here takes up a place behind the keyboard, music directing and leading the awesome four-piece rock band. I was surprised at how much I liked the score, which covers a wide variety of musical styles. But I shouldn't be; the score was the first score written by Pulitzer and Tony winner Tom Kitt (for one of my favorite musicals Next to Normal), with clever, funny, and sometimes poignant lyrics by Amanda Green. I'm tempted to download the OBC recording (featuring Will Chase and Jenn Colella, why did this show close so early?!).
|Laura (Jorie Ann Kosel) and Rob
(Taras Wybaczynsky, photo courtesy of MMT)
The supporting cast is terrific too. Jorie Ann Kosel gives a heartfelt portrayal of Laura, Cameron Reeves is hilarious as Barry, Maxwell Ward's performance as Dick (with some great hair-acting!) puts him in danger of being typecast as the adorably sweet young man (see also Lyric Arts' She Loves Me), Charlie Morgan is appropriately smarmy as Laura's hippie new boyfriend, and Dorothy Owen is great as the reliable best friend. Kudos to the entire ensemble for playing multiple characters including customers, ex-girlfriends, singers, etc. (with a special shout-out for Paul Hoselton's super fun Bruce Springsteen impersonation).
|buddies Dick, Barry, and Rob at the record store (Maxwell Ward,
Cameron Reeves, and Taras Wybaczynsky, photo courtesy of MMT)
|Paul Hoselton channeling Bruce Springsteen amongst
the records (photo courtesy of MMT)