Hip Shot: Love, NY
Mountain at Mount Vernon Methodist Church
Sat. July 20 at 5:45 p.m.
Tues. July 23 at 6:45 p.m.
Fri. July 26 at 10:00 p.m.
They say: "This new musical follows the lives of a group of 20-somethings as they fall in and out of love and careers and navigate the twists and turns of the city."
Dan's Take: The title of Love, NY refers to both the romantic endeavors of the cast and the love/hate relationship insiders and outsiders have with The Big Apple. But does the 2009 musical by Robert Rokicki and Michael Ruby echo any other pop culture portrayals of young New Yorkers who don't quite have their shit together? Nah, Love, NY is more interested in neatly tied endings and cartoonish humor rather than cringeworthy hookups and self-reflection. And so be it. Love, NY is a sprightly pop-rock musical, and a fairly entertaining one for that matter. It prefers light satire to sting, but it ultimately gets by as an amusing variation on well-worn tropes.
Unlike that oh-so-popular HBO show set in New York, Love, NY is a man/man-child's show that would barely pass the Bechdel movie test. The female leads are mostly one-note characters: Laura (Robyn Swirling), the uptight girlfriend who puts her dance career in front of her love life; Hailey (Caroline Mahoney), the obsessive, spoiled NYU student; and Emily (Samantha Keogh), the manic pixie dream girl who has yet to find the straight man of her dreams. They collectively develop a tad over the course of the show, but mainly they are used as vehicles for the overzealous newcomer Benji (Robert Mueller) and his successful but jaded boss Daniel (Lou Steele) to figure out what they really want in life.
This is also reflected in the musical numbers, as the ladies get solo songs that drag on a single premise, with Keogh being the only one to assert herself in a meaningful way. Mueller and Steele have much more dynamic material to work with and sell it very well, Mueller especially with his giddy, "nice Jewish boy" mannerisms. The score, if not quite memorable, was bouncy and upbeat, and it was mature enough to keep the show unified and pushing forward for most of its 80-minute runtime.
The romantic plots, twists, and entanglements lead to some comically endearing moments and while the show posseses elements of unpredictability, it never felt as though the stakes were incredibly high for any one character, even with their career troubles and looming commitments. Love, NY is at its funniest and most engaging when it uses interludes and one-liners to skewer naive tourists, Times Square, foul-smelling subway riders, and other aspects of the city that may be irritating in person but provide laughs from a distance. Ensemble member David Carter brings physicality and nonchalance to his bit characters with often hilarious results.
Love, NY is grounded in the idea of finding a silver lining during tough times. As Emily tells Daniel, you can do anything in New York City, and that alone is reason to stay positive. While the musical avoids digging deeper into the ambivalence of the characters as they navigate adulthood, it functions as irreverent, feel-good entertainment that has broad appeal and a welcome sense of humor.
See it if: You love NYC, satire of NYC, and following your heart.
Skip it if: You hate rom-coms and could care less about New York.