Living in a Musical Hoofs Into TNC

Dreams of Fred Astaire: "Living in a Musical" at Theater for the New City.
Jonathan Slaff

Living in a Musical—the sixth collaboration by Mark Marcante (director), Tom Attea (book and lyrics), and Arthur Abrams (score)—is as appealing and enjoyable as the vintage glass bottles of Coca Cola in its lead character's fridge.

Nine years after college, struggling actor Frank (Kyle Fowler) is stuck: stuck waiting tables, stuck in a love triangle with a heavy-metal couple, and stuck in the musical traditions of the early 20th century. He emulates Fred Astaire, dressing in a gray argyle sweater-vest as he serenades his lady, Angel (Alexandra Grossi), a rock-and-roll druggie and Juilliard graduate, whom he has rescued from her abusive bandmate boyfriend. Angel, clad in jean-colored leggings and beat-up leather jacket, makes a stark contrast to Frank's living room, with its dark-wood record player and mauve couch with fluffed pillows.

An audition to star in the Broadway revival of Top Hat is Frank's long-awaited break. But he's jerked around by Angel in their budding romance and by his old college buddy, a regular restaurant customer who continually pressures him to set aside his dream to enter the corporate world. Propelled by the spirit of Gene Kelly's can-do era, though, Frank perseveres in melding his old-fashioned ideals into modern-day reality. He and Angel make an odd, but oddly convincing, couple. Their voices mingle instrumentally and they dance smoothly "cheek to cheek," suggesting that she may enjoy his version of an alternative lifestyle more than her own. Naturally wholesome but nonetheless hilarious, Living in a Musical is plain and simply charming.

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