Honestly, how could you resist seeing a show called OMFG! The Internet Dating Musical? I know I couldn’t.
Opening night was packed. Granted, ODC Theater is small to begin with, but still–it was a full house. The size provided intimacy that Curran Theatre simply cannot. The set was simple (blue backdrop, one room on each side of the stage). I eagerly waited for the show to start while trying not to listen to the man behind me who was bragging about how singers always tell him he has a singing voice.
The musical follows the online courtship between Brandon (played by Jackson Davis) and Heather (Cindy Goldfield’s character), two desperately lonely middle-aged people who only have stuffed-animal pets as company. I thought that I’d eventually get over the fact that Brandon looked more than ten years older than the woman, but unfortunately I was stuck with that lingering thought the entire night.
Brandon and Heather open the show with their hopes that the other date-able with the song “Don’t Be Gay.” The witty idea is soon crushed once the characters actually start saying the letters “OMG” like Jenna Rose would instead of just saying “Oh my God.” Nobody actually does that. The lyricist’s attempt to be edgy and comical with the insertion cuss words backfired due to the fact that they weren’t actually said. Also, Davis’ voice constantly drowned out Goldfield’s, and neither of them are great singing prodigies.
An urgent need to impress the respective other controls them, so they both end up creating identities that are far from the truth. Brandon sings “We Followed the Sea” as he tells Heather that he’s a sailor (instead of an elementary school art teacher). In turn, Heather avoids admitting that she’s an occupational therapist, “an occupation no one understands.” She then tries to take advantage of Brandon’s interest in J-Lo and Salma Hayek by belting a song about how she’s Latina and has “tasty enchiladas.”
During the jazzy song “Men,” Heather gives the audience a few samples of her ABC list of ideal men. She mentions Bradley Cooper, Mr. Darcy, and Neil Patrick Harris, which is interesting seeing as he’s typically not seen as the hottest male celebrity. (Cue NPH’s poking fun at himself at the Tonys: “Good evening. I’m teen-heartthrob Neil Patrick Harris”).
The music did not disappoint. I loved the melody of “Love isn’t Like the Movies” (not to be mistaken with Katy Perry‘s “Not Like the Movies”), and the tune of “All I Know Is” masterfully transitioned between melancholy and cheeriness within beats. During Heather’s soliloquy at the cafe, she sings the “Gravity is Getting Me Down Blues,” which has the tune of a great, soulful Disney villain song. I even chuckled at the climactic “I Hate You” song when the characters said that “Frodo would’ve been safer if he had just stayed home and masturbated.”
Even though light comedy filled the play, there were certain moments of sad realization: “I just want to grow old with someone who remembers how hot I used to be. Is that so much to ask?” and “I just want to get laid, damnit.”
The ending was very unlikely, and the chemistry between Brandon and Heather is not believable seeing as they had nothing in common and knew nothing about each other. One of the musical’s lines put it perfectly: “He’s probably a serial killer or a Republican.” For all she knew, he could be. Singing random songs about sailing at sea and dancing in Spain doesn’t change a thing about that very real danger.
A three-person ensemble plays a considerably large (and unnecessary) role in the show. During “No F’ing Way” (which was a completely irrelevant song about being bullied as a child), the ensemble were pacing back and forth upstage with their cell phones, which was purposeless and annoying. Juliet Heller, who could be Christina Ricci‘s doppelganger, tended to exaggerate her facial expressions and ended up looking like a caricature. Calia Johnson didn’t seem to have rehearsed the choreography very much, and Reggie White flamboyancy was distracting. However, their singing voices were strong and arguably better the leads’. The three also took on the role of techies as they helped with scene changes and onstage props.
A few things really bothered me. I was completely distracted by the horrid choreography during dance numbers. It painfully resembled a second-rate high school production of Grease. The video projection was cheesy as well. It looked like a PowerPoint slide; it displayed pictures of their living rooms and looked completely out of place behind the set.
To make matters worse, Davis/Brandon was extremely awkward. It was nearly impossible to tell if Davis is actually awkward or if he was just portraying an awkward character really, really well. Not to mention there was also an inconsistent third wall between the leads and ensemble. Sometimes Heather look at the ensemble in confusion, but other times she’d smile and talk directly to them.
The biggest issue I had with the musical, though, was the lack of dialogue. The little dialogue that existed was only there to set up the next song. If I wanted people to randomly burst into song every three minutes, I could’ve turned on High School Musical. It seems that Gavin Dillard wrote the songs separately and then wrote a story around them (which is common to do, but this result was fragmented–example one: the random song about drinking coffee in the morning, and example two: the ending song about summer). Also, since the two leads kept fabricating tales of their lives, there wasn’t actual character development of who they are, only who they AREN’T (a muscly sailor and a bodacious Spanish girl).
Something that confused me was the slipped-in stabs at the existence of the Internet. The ensemble members sing, “I’ve Tweeted and texted and Facebook’d my hours away” and they eventually confiscate the leads’ laptops. Is the “deep moral” of the show that reliance on technological advancement is evil? That doesn’t make much sense seeing as Brandon and Heather never would have met if they didn’t go on the dating site.
Even though the plot has holes and the dialogue is underwhelming, the role-play provides an amusing showcase of costumes and Christopher Winslow’s music is delightful. The musical may not be Tony material, but it’s ninety minutes of entertainment. You only have until the 17th to go see the show, so buy tickets now (which, ironically, are available online). See it with a friend, though–walking in the Mission at night can be scarier than talking to Internet predators.