Omg, my BFFs are mad at me, my alcoholic mother is getting married again, my dead beat ex-bf wants me back, and my new step-sister is, like, TOTALLY more in control of her life than me, despite being a few tacos short of a combo platter. This is NOT my life.
Emily, the main character in the new musical, This Is NOT My Life, is surrounded by dysfunctional family and friends after returning from a trip to Paris. Accompanied by her Parisian boyfriend, Erich, Emily is faced with the return of her ex-boyfriend, Nick, who desires to rekindle their old flame, while Emily juggles the slews of BFFs and step-siblings who are a bit perturbed by her sudden and prolonged disappearance to France. This all occurs while Emily’s mother, Helen, drowns herself with every alcoholic beverage she can find, as she prolongs her walk down the aisle-for the fifth time. [Wipes sweat off brow] Whew, you got that?
This Is NOT My Life is certainly not at a loss for interpersonal-relationship problems – mostly dealing with Emily (Kaitlin Hitchings) – but unfortunately, all this hullabaloo plays as distracting and cliché, instead of the perceived desire of being comical (or emotionally trying?). Most of the characters are stereotypical, but not exaggerated enough to be funny – the fabulous gay guy, the vapid step-sister, the overenthusiastic best friend – and instead the characters seem shallow and undeveloped.
Most of this lost comedy is due to the writing, though the actors on stage take some of the blame. There were many awkward moments between actors-mainly dealing with energy levels and comfort on stage, not to mention diction and volume-and this left me hunting for the meaning of songs, though perhaps that was my fatal flaw while viewing This is NOT My Life. With songs like “So’s Your Mom,” a tune peppered with “your mom” jokes, “Screw You Too,” and “The Cosmo Magazine Quiz Song,” I was left confused in regards to the raison d’être of the musical. Is this a farce, or is it attempting to make deeper commentary on some aspect of human relationships?
But not all is lost in the production of This Is NOT My Life. The cast boasts of a handful of vocally talented individuals, namely the ex-boyfriend, Nick (Mike Gigante), and the bubbly best friend, Samantha (Paige Felix). Gigante sings the less-than-poetic “You Can’t Tell Me I Can’t Love Her,” with such power and grace that I forgot about the lyrics and just listened as the tenor’s full, rich voice filled the tiny space of the Redrum. Give this kid another song. Hell, give this kid six more songs. Additionally, Felix grabs hold of the attention in her duet with Hitchings, “Your Best, Best Friend,” and drives that sucker home with Broadway gusto – clear runs, and beautiful vibrato.
Overall, though not all cast members are quite as strong as the two mentioned here, the group sound is impressive (perhaps partially due to the tone quality amongst the women – they all seem to share the same style); the voices of the cast blend well, and the last number, “An Ordinary Miracle,” is catchy, and a wonderful ending moment to the show. The lyrics throughout are a bit shaky, but the music is quite catchy, and certainly fits the style of many new musicals.
This Is NOT My Life caters to a very specific crowd-college-age, and slightly older-so I wouldn’t suggest this for any one older than 25. Additionally, many of the plot devices are melodramatic without intending to be (death of a parent, pregnancy, reappearance of ex-bf), so a certain mind-set must be reached in order to view this new musical.
The current script and story are not a bad skeleton for what could be a comical play, though the writer and composer (Steve Lewis and John Maggi, respectively), should bring this baby back to the drawing board, and iron out the kinks.
This is NOT My Life
Book by Steve Lewis
Music and Lyrics by John Maggi
Directed by Erin Dunn
Produced by See What I Did There?
Reviewed by Caitlin DeMerlis