ROOMS a rock romance

GETTING IN TUNE Kritzer and Kreeger harmonize.

GETTING IN TUNE Kritzer and Kreeger harmonize. Photograph: Carol Rosegg

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

Is there a technical showbiz term—besides divine—to describe Leslie Kritzer? She's the rare singer-performer around whom musicals ought to form as naturally as the earth's mantle surrounds its molten core. She has a wallpaper-shredding belt that belies her petite form and pretty, elfin looks. She's drop-dead funny but owns her serious moments. Where is her big, fat, custom-built Broadway show? ROOMS a rock romance is a decent vehicle for Kritzer's multiple talents, but it leaves you wanting a better showcase for her gifts.

Paul Scott Goodman provides the tunes and cowrites the book for this tale of a troubled relationship between Scottish songwriters Monica (Kritzer) and Ian (Kreeger). She's intent on stardom at any cost; he's determined to get drunk at all times. The course of their affair and career follows a predicable path: initial antipathy, sudden love, success, estrangement and breakup. Thanks to the actors' charisma (Kreeger, though handsome, makes a convincing greasy lush) and the occasional funny line, the journey with these characters is affable, if never fully gripping. Plot turns involving Ian getting sober and the fate of an unplanned pregnancy add some needed grit, but too late.

Goodman can write slick '80s-style pop numbers, but he faces the inevitable challenge of the rock musical: how to balance lyrical cleverness and a driving beat without falling into cheesiness. Too often his songs sound like generic, rhyme-heavy show tunes in hipster drag. He should take a tip fromKritzer: Be true to yourself, and the fans will follow.—David Cote

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New World Stages. Music and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman. Book by Miriam Gordon and Goodman. Dir. Scott Schwartz. With Leslie Kritzer, Doug Kreeger. 1hr 35mins. No intermission.