Minneapolis Musical Theatre (MMT) is one of the theatres that led to the creation of this blog. Their production of Be More Chill was a show I saw, loved, and then went to a second time bringing a group of 12 friends and family members to share the experience. Their latest production Analog and Vinyl doesn’t elicit that level of enthusiasm, but MMT is a company I always find worth my time. MMT’s tagline is “Rare Musicals. Well done”, in this case it’s easy to see why this musical is rarely performed, it’s just not that great, it’s not bad, it just feels like these ideas have been used before and more memorably. It is well done, the let down isn’t in the production itself, but in the material. This is a show where the parts are better than the whole.
Analog and Vinyl‘s book is by Michael Berresse & Paul Gordon with music and lyrics by Gordon. It tells the story of Harrison who’s vintage vinyl record store is about to close if he cannot come up with the back rent by 9:00 AM the next day. He’s also being audited by the IRS and needs to come up with money to pay his tax debt. There’s also a non-employee named Rodeo Girl, who showed up 11 days ago and is clearly interested in him, to which he is oblivious. She seems to have gone off her ADHD medications, and as a digital girl seems, the total opposite of the analog Harrison who doesn’t even own a cell phone. Enter The Stranger whom it will be revealed to be Satan, this happens early on so isn’t much of a spoiler, who offers them what they most want but at the cost of their souls. Satan isn’t presented with horns and a pitchfork, but comes in the guise of a nonbinary being who when asked if they should be addressed as a woman says “sure”. Satan will come and go throughout the day as Harrison and Rodeo Girl debate taking the deals and reveal more and more about themselves. It’s not a bad plot but the details seem like someone forgot to go back and do a second draft. Harrison is trying to get Rodeo Girl to organize a section of the inventory at the beginning and then reveals the tax audit that is weighing on him. A little later it’s revealed about the back rent deadline and the tax audit doesn’t really come up again. Pick one, you don’t need both. Then he’s wanting Rodeo Girl to start packing the inventory since he’ll be losing the store, so why were they not working on that earlier rather than organizing the albums? It feels like sloppy and lazy scripting. The best parts of the script are Rodeo Girls stream of consciousness rambles and basically every scene with Satan. The songs themselves are fine, but nothing sticks out as particularly memorable.
At the performance I attended the role of Harrison was played by the understudy Kyle Camay, it’s the weakest link performance wise but I think that is understandable. As the understudy you’re not attending the same level of rehearsal time to completely find your character, and in this case that was made more apparent by contrast with the other two performers who were exceptionally good. Kudos to Camay for jumping in, and I don’t want to leave the impression that he was bad, he was fine in the role. Grace Hillmyer is not someone I’ve noticed before but she was ideal casting as Rodeo Girl. She handles both the comedic and the dramatic moments with equal ease and her vocal work is lovely. Bradley Johnson as The Stranger steals every scene he’s in. It’s a wonderfully witty and over the top performance, by far the most entertaining element of the show. His vocals are the most confident of the cast and he pulls of some sweeter moments performance-wise that scriptwise seem a bit wrongheaded.
The production is directed by Vanessa Brooke Agnes with musical direction by Brenda Varda. The band, as is always the case with MMT, is tight sounding with the musical quartet providing everything needed. The Scenic Designer is Joel Moline and was much more elaborate than I was expecting given the size of the facilities at the Phoenix Theater. I liked the smattering of concert posters and record displays. There are also some nice lighting touches by Lighting Designer Grant E. Merges.
Analog and Vinyl runs through March 12th at the Phoenix Theater in uptown for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.aboutmmt.org/analog-and-vinyl/.
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My fellow Twin Cities Theater Bloggers and I would like you to be our date to The Prom at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre March 4th matinee performance! We have a discount code that will save you $20 per ticket, and we’ll be hosting a talkback afterwards with the Director Michael Brindisi and cast members Monty Hays, Maya Richardson, and Tod Petersen. click on this link to purchase tickets, the code should apply automatically to get you that discount. And hey, if you cannot make it to the March 4th performance you can use that code TCTB1 for any performance through March 12th. Follow the TCTB on facebook @TwinCitiesTheaterBloggers.
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