33 to Nothing
NYC Theatre Review
Way down below the big bright lights of the expansive Broadway productions, almost south of Houston Street, sits a fresh compact theatre housing the most surprising production in NYC. This compelling one act play about (and with) a five piece rock band unfolds nearly every night. The band is at their rehearsal space, working through songs and angst. With plenty of rock references (“do you have to be gay to sing REM or Queen songs?”), the 95 minutes play authentically. The married couple has a secret they have not yet dropped on the band, and the lead guitarist and keyboard player are not sure they have really split up. The fact that the latter couple is male becomes rapid fodder for myriad gay references, which seem realistic. The intra-band relationships are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, which the characters freely (and wisely) acknowledge.
Gray is the band’s lead songwriter and singer, and is superbly played by Grant James Varjas. Indeed, he wrote the play and all the songs. As the rehearsal unfolds, with the audience as the secret spectators, each of the band’s personalities emerge. The thick drummer is only interested in keeping the beat and answering his girlfriend’s calls. Bri (played by Preston Clarke, formerly of the LA rock trio St. Surreal) is the lead guitarist and lingering object of Gray’s affection. Gray’s reliance on vodka takes its toll as emotions fray,
Musically, the songs are emotional and explosive. Ranging from the occasional ballads to full bore anthems, the songs not only stand alone but serve to drive the storyline. “Low to the Ground” and “Happy Moral Suicide” are two highlights. Keith Levenson is the music supervisor, and his pedigree is evident in the production. Not only has he worked on large scale Broadway productions, he has arranged and produced for The Who, Billy Preston, Alice Cooper, Yes, Jackson Browne and Thelma Houston. Levenson’s eclectic experience has been well represented in this compelling production.
Anyone who has been in a band, wishes they had been in a band or wonders what goes on in a band will wish this show did not end so quickly.