Uninspired screen-to-stage adaptation of ‘Nearly Well-known’ at Broadway’s Jacobs Theatre

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The most recent within the movie-to-Broadway style of virtually however probably not new musicals, now enjoying an open-ended engagement on the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, is Nearly Well-known, the coming-of-age rock-n-roll road-trip diary-come-to-life of a budding teenage rock-music journalist, based mostly on the award-winning movie of the identical identify that premiered in 2000. The fictionalized semi-autobiographical e book and lyrics by multi-hyphenate Cameron Crowe (who can now listing Broadway amongst his credit) has unique music and lyrics by Tom Kitt (who additionally supplied the orchestrations and preparations) added to its acquainted choice of rock hits from the Seventies, carried out by a big firm of greater than two dozen, many making their Broadway debuts. Regardless of the extra songs and a unique forged, the manufacturing presents little greater than a half-hour-longer operating time and bankable nostalgia for followers of the film (which is out there for streaming).

Casey Likes and forged. Picture by Matthew Murphy.

For these unfamiliar with the story, it’s 1973, and fifteen-year-old bullied outsider William Miller, gifted her assortment of rock albums by his older sister Anita (who leaves dwelling to change into a flight attendant after an argument with their strict mom Elaine), turns into a devotee and begins writing freelance options for music publications, most notably a failed project to cowl Black Sabbath for Creem journal. He then will get a name from Rolling Stone and is employed to do a canopy story on the rising rock band Stillwater (Crowe’s fictionalized composite of members from the favored teams of the period), goes on the highway with them (to the dismay of Elaine), and is uncovered to their hedonistic world of intercourse, groupies, and sexism, medicine, egos, and in-fighting, the place the rule is, “No attachments, no boundaries.” Earlier than leaving, he’s warned by his mentor Lester Bangs from Creem that he’s not cool, that he shouldn’t change into mates with the band, who’ll attempt to affect what he writes about them, and that his articles ought to be “trustworthy and cruel.” It’s recommendation he ignores till a turbulent flight with the group brings out the reality about all of them.

Directed by Jeremy Herrin, the present is mildly entertaining however not over-the-top in-your-face dazzling, with overtly cloying ballads that conflict with the rock type of the ‘70s, and portrayals that lack electrical energy and chemistry. It additionally misses the chance for the present manufacturing to make the offending characters – displaying the rockstars’ flagrant misogyny and its prepared acceptance by the ladies who allow them – much less sympathetic and apologetic, as a substitute of getting them come collectively in a kumbaya ending that defies credibility in 2022.

Casey Likes and Rob Colletti. Picture by Matthew Murphy.

Consequently, for me, essentially the most plausible characterizations are those which are extra intense and humorous than sentimental and endearing: Rob Colletti because the uncool however forthright Lester Bangs, who’s hilariously outspoken with William in recognizing folks for what they’re and denouncing the demise of Sixties rock-n-roll in favor of the commercialism of the ‘70s; Anika Larsen because the domineering mom and instructor Elaine, who repeatedly and adamantly reminds William to not do medicine, publicizes to her class that her son “was stolen by rockstars,” and offers Stillwater’s lead guitarist Russell Hammond a chunk of her thoughts, greater than as soon as; and Drew Gehling because the band’s lead singer Jeff Bebe, who instantly nicknames the younger journalist “The Enemy” and reacts strongly to Russell stealing the highlight from him, in a humorous and spirited efficiency that delivers the ego, ardour, and competitiveness inherent in his function.

Drew Gehling and Chris Wooden. Picture by Matthew Murphy.

The lead actors – Casey Likes because the younger and naïve William (who’s clever sufficient to recollect all the main points in regards to the members of Stillwater and to jot down properly sufficient to be picked up by Rolling Stone, however by some means doesn’t know what 12 months he was born or that he’s solely fifteen, not seventeen, as his mom instructed him, since he skipped two grades); Solea Pfeiffer because the groupie-with-a-heart Penny Lane (who prefers calling herself a “Band-Support” and claims she’s in it for the music, not the rockstars, takes William beneath her wing and evokes his pet love, although she’s not serious about him in that approach); and Chris Wooden because the married Russell (who makes use of her when his spouse isn’t with him on tour and eliminates her when she is) – convey their vocal abilities and characterizations to the fabric they’ve been given, through which their love of rock-n-roll, longings, and any semblance of ethical integrity are on what proves to be, within the simply resolved pleased ending, a low-impact collision course.

Casey Likes and Solea Pfeiffer. Picture by Matthew Murphy.

Costumes by David Zinn and hair, wigs, and make-up by Campbell Younger Associates seize the genuine look and elegance of the ‘70s, and Sarah O’Gleby’s choreography brings moments of excessive vitality, particularly within the opening numbers. Lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Peter Hylenski, and Derek McLane’s scenic and video design evoke the altering locales, from William’s dwelling to the route, venues, and lodges of the band’s tour, with out the immersive largesse of a real rock live performance. Just like the lead performances, and the general temper of the present, they’re extra understated than explosive.

Working Time: Roughly two hours and half-hour, together with an intermission.

Nearly Well-known performs an open-ended run on the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Road, NYC. For tickets (priced at $74-318), go on-line.

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