News Column

Reality TV an Easy Target

July 19, 2013




New off-Broadway musical, at the Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St.

Book and lyrics by Itamar Moses. Music and lyrics by Gaby Alter.

Directed by Michelle Tattenbaum.

With Bryan Fenkart, Heath Calvert, Aleque Reed and Leslie Kritzer.

Schedule: 7 p.m. Tuesday; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $80. 212-246-4422, or

The creators of "Nobody Loves You," which opened Thursday night at the Second Stage Theatre, didn't exactly take a risk in selecting a target for their satirical musical.

The recipient of their slings and arrows is ... reality television!

The musical reveals that these shows are dumb, manipulative and drenched in phony sincerity. Who knew?

At the center of this expose is a fictional dating show also called "Nobody Loves You." It's a combination of "The Bachelor" and "Big Brother," with contestants who are looking for love all housed in the same facility until, one by one, they're voted off by viewers.

It's not that the musical, written by Itamar Moses, with perky, tuneless songs by Moses and Gaby Alter, is dreadful or completely unfunny. It's just utterly in vain, as it struggles unsuccessfully to match the sublime trashiness of the real thing.

Jeff (Bryan Fenkart), a graduate philosophy student, decides to get on the show in order to expose it, only to find himself falling in love with another skeptic, Jenny (Aleque Reid), a production assistant on the program.

There are a gaggle of other thinly drawn contestants - director Michelle Tattenbaum doubles down on the silliness by having the young cast play their characters as cartoon figures - including a bad girl (Lauren Molina), an insecure young woman (Autumn Hurlbert) and a shakily Christian man (Roe Hartrampf). The man is also named Christian, for the sake of a single joke late in the 90-minute show.

Also on hand are a handsome but dimwitted singer-host (Heath Calvert), who invokes bizarre similes ("Like baby teeth falling from a child's mouth, 15 contestants have dwindled to the final four"), a scheming producer (Leslie Kritzer) and an obsessive, extremely irritating blogger (Rory O'Malley).

The musical's typical technique is to refer to touchstones of the shows it's parodying. We're supposed to laugh out of recognition.

There is, for example, the ritualistic hot-tub scene. (Song lyric: "Come on into the hot tub with me, come on in, come on in, you won't believe how much hotter you'll be.") And then there are the seductively named accommodations to which amorous couples can retire: the Pillow-Fight Room and the Leather Room.

The awarding of roses on "The Bachelor"? How about the offering, instead, of Cupid Scepters?

Neither show titled "Nobody Loves You" is exactly the soul of wit.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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