90 minutes | Comedy | Mature
Next Thing You Know is the story of four 20-somethings trying to make it as artists in New York. Waverly is a 28-year-old aspiring actor who works at a law firm during the day and a dive bar on Sullivan Street at night. Her best friend Lisa often performs at the bar and her boyfriend Darren always shows up for the bad food and decent beer. Darren is an aspiring playwright who works temp jobs to pay the bills and works on his play in the evening, much to the dismay of Waverly who feels he doesn’t pay enough attention to her. Luke is co-worker of Darren’s who comes to the bar to pick up and ends up getting caught up in the drama.
When Waverly is offered a full-time position at the law firm it sets off a chain of events that leads to the end of her relationship with Darren. Waverly claims that she doesn’t want to take the job because she doesn’t want to give up on acting even though she currently has to work two jobs and doesn’t even have time to audition. Darren, meanwhile, is actually following his dream by working frantically on his play, which he now has a chance to show to Luke’s father who is a theatre agent.
The performances were strong, and got better throughout. There were some memorable songs, including one by Luke about making omelettes for all of the different women he’s brought home. And while the delivery was solid, lyrics were so full of innuendo (who adds a splash of cream to omelettes?) that even John Mayer would consider it a little much. The best song of the night featured the entire cast waking up after a long night of drinking and a few bad decisions. They droned together in harmony about their hangovers like a degenerate millennial barbershop quartet. It was a pretty spectacular feat to pull off.
Unfortunately, the premise made it very difficult to sympathize with Waverly in any way since she was being offered a job that probably would have given her more time to work on her acting, and she dumped her boyfriend because he was actually working too hard toward his dream. And for a musical that The New York Times called “Rent for this generation,” there didn’t seem to be any aspect of the story that indicated it was set in 2010s New York. Drinks were two for $7 (maybe for cans of PBR), the characters hung out and drank in Greenwich Village (nobody who lives in New York does that!), Darren actually expected to make a living from writing a play and Waverly seemed ambivalent about stable employment as if the 2008 financial crisis never happened. For a trope as thoroughly explored as the young artists trying to make it in New York, there should be something interesting brought to it every time it gets revisited. Despite some great performances, the story of Next Thing You Know just didn’t have it.
Next Thing You Know by Ethereal Fantazy Productions is playing at Academic Hall (133 Séraphin-Marion Pvt.) on Monday, June 20 at 7:30pm; Wednesday, June 22 at 8:30pm; Friday, June 24 at 11:00pm; and Sunday, June 26 at 1:00pm.
Tickets are $12.