Three-dimensional performances can’t save a two-dimensional script in this new musical comedy.
Underscore Theatre Company’s world premiere musical The Story of A Story (The Untold Story) has a number of powerful and energetic performances, but the two-dimensional plot can’t sustain the show’s two full acts.
When a struggling writer (Max DeTogne) and a struggling artist (Lauren Paris) click on an oddly specific spam email, they open a portal to the Land of Creativity, a world populated by clichés who are held captive in their own two-dimensionality by the evil tyrant Masterful (Kevin Bishop). They go on a journey to free the clichés from Masterful’s grasp and embrace originality.
The show succeeds with its impressively genuine cast. Sarah Hoch’s excitable manic pixie dream girl sings a bubbly Gwen Stefani–esque pop song that's a highlight of the show. Luke Meierdiercks plays a doomed soldier and an imprisoned Shakespeare with an extraordinary amount of versatility. And Max DeTogne’s Ben, the uninspired writer who brings us into the Land of Creativity, grounds the fantastical clichés in the real world with his subtle and deft sense of pace.
Created by Peter Gwinn and Jody Shelton of Baby Wants Candy, the musical improv troupe, the show feels more like an extended sketch than a full-fledged musical. The writers would have been better off sticking to their typical 60-minute time constraint. By the show’s third swan song, we’re no longer dealing with clichés—we’re dealing with repetition. The show has its clever moments, but when we leave the Land of Creativity, not only has nothing original happened, nothing has changed.
Underscore Theatre Company at Chopin Theatre. Book and lyrics by Peter Gwinn. Music by Jody Shelton. Directed by Christopher Pazdernik. With Kevin Bishop, Jonas Davidow, Max DeTogne, Jacob Fjare, Kate Garassino, Sarah Hock, Kirk Jackson, Luke Meierdiercks, Kirk Osgood, Rachel Page, Lauren Paris, Gerald Richardson and Jessica Vann. Running Time: 2hrs 20mins; one intermission.