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Photo: Laura Gauthier/Apt613

Theatre Review: [Title of Show] by Carleton Musical Theatre Society—until 11.30.19 at Live! on Elgin

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on November 30, 2019

Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

Ever since we heard the song Nine People’s Favorite Thing a few years ago at Showtunes Showdown we knew we wanted to see [title of show]. I mean, how could we not with a chorus like “I’d rather be nine people’s favourite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favourite thing”?

[title of show], written by Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen, was nominated for a Tony award, among others, and is probably the most meta show for a Broadway fan—even us BFFs didn’t get all of the musical theatre references! With a cast of only four and a half (the on-stage musician also has lines), the original show also included now well-known (but at the shows conception, much less known) Heidi Blickenstaff and Susan Blackwell (if you don’t stay up until 4 a.m. watching Side By Side by Susan Blackwell are you even a Broadway fan?).

The show is about writing, rehearsing and performing a musical in order to get it submitted to a prestigious theatre festival, and it’s based on the real-life experience of the writers who were stuck for an idea of what to write a show about for their submission. So, they wrote about writing about it. The show has a pretty consistent style of humour that is used throughout, and we did find the story really picked up in the second half with more conflict to solve, but it’s a neat insight into the creative process and laughs at itself quite a bit. Making fun of theatre tropes and breaking the fourth wall pretty consistently, the show got very consistent laughs throughout.

Photo: Laura Gauthier/Apt613

We love LIVE! on Elgin as a venue for great local cabaret-style performances but hadn’t seen a staged show there before. It’s not completely ideal—there’s no raised seating and the sound isn’t especially great for actors who can’t project or don’t use mics for the long and narrow room—but for a show like this with such bare-bones scenery and story it kind of fit the theme and feel of the show. We were about four “rows” back (made up of small bar-height tables and chairs) and found it difficult to hear a few of the actors at times or see them well, especially when they were seated for scenes, but it was still an enjoyable experience and we found ourselves laughing at the meta-ness of it all.

Photo: Laura Gauthier/Apt613

Colin Campbell, as Hunter, was a stand-out performer and well-suited for the space as he projected well and was quite funny to watch. The actors are self-deprecating at times and quite relatable, especially for anyone who is close to the theatre or creative fields. If you’re a fan of Broadway musicals you’ll enjoy [title of show].

Carleton Musical Theatre Society, or CMTS, is an ambitious group and we look forward to seeing their next production as well. Into the Woods will be presented in the spring.

[title of show] continues at LIVE on Elgin until Saturday, November 30th, 2019. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and a Saturday matinee at 2:00 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$25. The show runs about 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.