Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling

"What's That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling" at New World Stages, November 14, 20008

After a limited run at Atlantic Theatre's Stage 2, David Pittu's take on an off-Broadway composers has transferred to New World Stages for an open-ended run.

Mr. Pittu has managed to capture the painful essence of Jacob Sterling, an off-Broadway wannabe-but-doesn't-really-have-the-talent theatre composer who is still trying to make it to the bright lights of the Great White Way.

Set as an episode of a small-time cable show, "Composers and Lyricists Of the Theatre," (CLOT) is hosted by Leonard (Peter Bartlett effectively recreating his last role in Paul Rudnick's "The New Century" at Lincoln Center), who finds the inane and convoluted material to be one of America's undiscovered treasures.

Jacob Sterling studied at the San Palo Academy for the Study of Music (SPASM), and has been a featured artist at the Cedar Rapids Association for Musical Performance (CRAMP). The puns run rampant and the musical jokes are spot on.

A highlight of Jacob's college career was his musical stage adaptation of the film "Private Benjamin" as a vehicle for Loni Anderson. (Seems the two had a falling out when she learned he'd never inquired about getting the rights to adapt it from Goldie Hawn. He says fondly, "I can still remember my last conversation with Loni when she found out, Burt shouting in the background.")

Then there is his first New York song cycle, inspired by his mother's first visit to NYC. Everywhere they went, she kept asking, "What's that smell?" Inspiration indeed for such lyrics as "Is it cole slaw? Is it cheese? Is it just old meat?"

Directed by Mr. Pittu and Neil Pepe, the pace is fast and the jokes are rapid-fire. The result is hilarious.

Go see it!

No comments: