Theater review by Raven Snook. Elektra Theatre (see Off Broadway). Music and lyrics by David Eric Davis. Book by Davis and Sam Forman. Dir. Jen Wineman. Ensemble cast. 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
A hit at the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival, the rock-musical comedy F#%king Up Everything is heavy on numbers (21!) but light on wit. The hoary humor comes in two types: Brooklyn hipster satire (mentions of the Park Slope Food Coop and queer-theory degrees are meant to pass for jokes) and romantic tropes that were dusty back in John Hughes’s heyday.
Goofy puppeteer Christian (Max Crumm, of reality TV’s Grease: You’re the One That I Want! obscurity) falls for uke-playing Juliana (Katherine Cozumel), who has a thing for rock & roll bad boys like wool-cap-wearing douchebag Jake (Jason Gotay), whom geekette Ivy (Dawn Cantwell) is also secretly crushing on. Think Some Kind of Wonderful with songs, minus the wonderful.
Why all the snark? Because composer-lyricist David Eric Davis is clearly so much better than this. Three songs in particular give a taste of what this show could have been if it hadn’t descended into sitbomb: “If You Were Mine,” Ivy’s private plea for Jake’s affections; Juliana’s love confession, “Falling”; and the “Awkward Silence” duet between pals realizing they’re more than besties. All of these numbers are clever, catchy and show real depth of character. But then a ditty like “Arielle’s Areolas” slaps you back to inanity. Davis has a bright future ahead of him if he stops using his title as a playbook.—Raven Snook