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Between the Lines

  • Theater, Musicals
  • Tony Kiser Theater, Hell's Kitchen
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Between the Lines
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew MurphyBetween the Lines

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Theater review by Raven Snook

Despite its title, the new musical Between the Lines wears its subtext on its sleeve. Based on the popular 2012 young adult novel by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer, the show centers on a lonely 17-year-old bookworm named Delilah (Arielle Jacobs, the hero of this uneven evening), who is struggling with multiple problems: a new school, an absent dad, an overwhelmed mom (the excellent Julia Murney). Looking for a break from the dreariness of her life, Delilah gets sucked into the world of a children's fantasy book; when she and the goofy Prince Oliver (an adorkable Jake David Smith) magically start chatting, they become obsessed with finding a way to get on the same page more literally.

Every character in this story—even the dog (a tap-happy Will Burton)—is desperate for a different life, and if you don’t think about it too hard, the show is good-natured, escapist fun. Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson pop-infused songs are catchy (if derivative), and Timothy Allen McDonald’s book is peppered with literary laughs; Caite Hevner’s spellbinding projections and Gregg Barnes's spectacular costumes add to the pleasure. 

But for a musical about finding a way to write your own unique narrative, Between the Lines is filled with a lot of clichés and stock characters: mean girls, dumb jocks, a frisky spinster librarian pining for Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy. And although it touches on dark subjects like depression and suicide, it is too lighthearted to explore such cutting questions. Under Jeff Calhoun's direction, the ten spirited actors flesh out their roles so well that you understand why the creators gave almost each of them their own "I Want" song. This musical is just good enough to leave you wanting more from it.

Between the Lines. Tony Kiser Theater (Off Broadway). Music and lyrics by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson. Book by Timothy Allen McDonald. Directed by Jeff Calhoun. With Arielle Jacobs, Julia Murney, Jake David Smith, Will Burton, Vicki Lewis. Running time: 2hrs 30mins. One intermission.

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Written by
Raven Snook


Tony Kiser Theater
305 W 43rd St
New York
Cross street:
at Eighth Ave
Subway: A, C, E to 42nd St–Port Authority

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