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A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
MoM A Rock Concert Musical

Hey - welcome to the Playwrights Theatre. Thanks for coming to see us. We're MoM. We're a band. We normally just play gigs - - you know. . . like concerts and stuff - - so this is all new for us - - doin a kind of theatre thing like this. We don't really know shit about plays or acting or any of that crap. So please - - be kind. &mdash Nancy
MoM Rock Concert
(l to r) Stefanie Seskin, Jane Keitel, Donna Jean Fogel, Bekka Lindström and Dana Loren McCoy (Photo: )
Perhaps a rock musical like MoM A Rock Concert Musical was the perfect antidote and a welcome change of pace for me after seeing (the day before) and surviving Gatz, the seven-hour dramatic reading (every word of it) of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (currently a huge success at the Public Theatre). This is not to say that I would ordinarily opt for the acerbic, abrasive sound of rock over the lilt of straight dramatic prose. But there has to be a balance, as well as an open-minded receptivity to all theatrical genres if I want to consider myself an informed and astute critic. Ahem.

  Voted the Outstanding Musical at the FringeNYC 2009, MoM A Rock Concert Musical is now having its more traditional world premiere at a theatre that is not generally inclined to stage a rock concert no matter how dramatically conceived. This departure for Playwrights Theatre speaks well of its adventurous nature as it also speaks encouragingly of Richard Caliban, whose book, music, lyrics and direction are the main ingredient in this otherwise loud and slightly laborious musical.

MoM follows the successes and failures of five "soccer moms" who form a rock band, get discovered, become famous and live long enough to consider the price they have paid to feel fulfilled. Using the concert format to define and express their personal and collective journey as closely-knit members of their rock group MoM, Karen (Donna Jean Fogel: drums and congas,) Nancy (Jane Keitel: guitar,) Melissa (Bekka Lindstrom: guitar,) Ingrid (Dana Loren McCoy: Keyboards,) and Catalina (Stefanie Seskin: sax, flute, bass) are determinedly, make that dementedly, dedicated to their rock band's pursuits. Their purpose presumably is to develop their own self-worth and at the same time get as far from their homes, family and community as possible.

  Caliban's score is also dedicated as well to defining each woman, her temperament and inner longings with songs that mostly reflect each woman's feelings about what they left behind and what they hope to gain by their independence. Referring to themselves as "hard ass bitches, " the songs they sing define the group's aggressively feminist tract.

  The performers are a dynamic, attractive and talented group and look sensational, enhanced by the purposely frumpy to eventually flashy costumes designed by Sarah Cubbage. Colored lights flash impressively in typical concert style as MoM deploy their respective instruments almost as weapons. There is the prerequisite bombardment of feverishly delivered songs and emotional narrative bridges that deal with such things as the boredom of traditional marriage, the discovery of one's bi-sexual nature, promiscuity, the abuse of drugs and alcohol, and the regrets of being an estranged parent. That there is a bittersweet resolve, that is no suicide, is nice to report.

  Two of the concert's most persuasive songs "Funky Town" and "I Unzipped Myself" are performed by McCoy as she follows Ingrid's downward spiral from an excess of drugs and alcohol. Seskin also makes a harrowing statement about her reckless relationships with "So Many Boys," while Lindstrom and Keitel discover their mutual attraction with the musical's most unsettling song "The Dark Side." Fogel is quite poignant as Karen, who realizes after the band has been on the road for eight years that she can have it all by returning home.

Receptive audiences (especially stay-at-home moms) can have it all in a little more than two hours. A nice touch comes via the floor level café tables and chairs that have been added to the regular tiered seating allowing patrons to consume refreshments.

MoM A Rock Concert Musical
  Book, lyrics, music and direction by Richard Caliban

  Cast: Donna Jean Fogel (Karen), Jane Keitel (Nancy), Bekka Lindstrom (Melissa), Dana Loren McCoy (Ingrid), Stefanie Seskin (Catalina)
  Scenic Design: Drew Francis
  Costume Design: Sarah Cubbage
  Sound Design: Jeff Knapp
  Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes including intermission
  Playwrights Theatre, 33 Green Village Road, Madison, NJ
  (973) 514 - 1787
  Tickets ($25; seniors $22.50; Students $15
  Performances: Thurs 10/07 at 6:30 PM; 10/14 at 3 PM; 10/21 at 8 PM; Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM.
  Opened 10/01/10
  Closes 10/24/10
  Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 10/03/10

Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Life Is Sweet /Company
  • I Wanna Be A Rocker /Company
  • Lady Of Leisure /Ingrid
  • Single Mom /Nancy
  • Cowboy In The Sky /Catalina
  • A Husband Who Does It All/ Karen
  • Runnin'Wild /Melissa
  • Moms In Thongs /Company
  • Why Can't He Take Care Of The Kids For A Change /Company
  • When I Was A Girl /Karen
  • The Dark Side /Melissa, Nancy
  • Funky Town/ Ingrid
  • Goin' Down /Company
  • The Electrician/.Catalina
Act Two
  • Life Is Sweet (Reprise) /Company
  • The River /Company
  • Hey, Daddy /Nancy
  • So Many Boys/ Catalina
  • Don't Hold Back /Melissa
  • I Unzipped Myself /Ingrid
  • Life Is Sweet (Reprise) /Company
  • Long Way From Home /Companyl
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