The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp Review

People Are Wrong

I hope that in the space between these two different cultures -- rock and roll performance and musical theatre performance--there is a new kind of collaboration that is really special. If I have managed to contribute to making that happen, I'll be very proud.
--- David Herskovits
David Driver as Xanthus, John Flansburgh as Russ, Robin Goldwasser as Joyce (rear),  Erin Hill as Terri<
l-r: David Driver as Xanthus, John Flansburgh as Russ, Robin Goldwasser as Joyce (rear), Erin Hill as Terri
(Photo: Carol Rosegg )
The task David Herskovits set himself per the quote above is not easy. He's done pretty well in creating a rock concert atmosphere for the thirty songs Julia Greenberg and Robin Goldwasser wrote for the first musical, People Are Wrong. The main props to be seen on the Vineyard's astroturf-carpeted stage are microphone stands and as the show gets under way, he even sends the stagehands front and center to wave a long mike right under the performers' nose.

The excellent band (positioned right on stage), the catchy music and the vivacious singing help Herskovits achieve half his goal. The story Greenberg and Goldwasser have concocted for their sung-through rock pop-era is another matter. It evokes enough remembrances of things past to undercut Herskovits' talk about this show heralding something new and daring.

The basic premise is this: Terri (Erin Hill) and Russ (John Flansburgh) are a young upscale couple who buy a weekend house and discover that bucolic life isn't as tranquil and serenely green as it's cracked up to be. Sound like the Blandings and their famous dream house? This being a musical, fast forward that black and white film image to The Rocky Horror Show. Janet and Brad-- excuse me, I mean, Terry and Russ -- meet up with Xanthus (David Driver). He's the landscape expert they hire who turns out to really head a peculiar cult whose members are all Agway employees. Xanthus isn't quite as scary and mad as Frank-n-Furter, but his reaction to their chopping down a "sacred" maple tree gives a surreal enough twist to the story to make its aim at offbeat cult status all too apparent. Xanthus starts building a space ship for a return to the 6th dimension, there are intimations that Terry and Russ' idyll will turn into a killing field. Don't ask! Oh, yes, to legitimize the Terri and Russ relationship, there's a stylish wedding planner (Maggie Moore) who arrives just in time to insure a happy ending for all concerned.

While all this silliness plays out in a brisk hour and forty minutes, it just isn't fresh and funny enough to turn this cult story into a cult show. Greenberg and Goldwasser clearly know how to create story-advancing tunes, but People Are Wrong, like Rusty Magee's The Green Heart, is not likely to see its green thumb metaphor blossom.

Unlike the Vineyard's big hit, Avenue Q (review), which successfully pulled in the much sought after under thirty audience but also charmed their elders, this show seems limited to under thirty, rock music enthusiasts. That's not to say that it isn't possible for lightning to strike twice. The new musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee proved to be a hit with just such an audience when it premiered at Barrington Stage in the Berkshires ( review), and will soon have a chance to charm New York theater goers when it comes to the Second Stage.

Unfortunately, as the director has been more successful in tapping into this show's concert sensibility , the theatrical staging has an unfinished, unpolished look. He does make good use of the theater's side balconies, and Xanuth's entrance from the aisle but the predominately grass green and brown set and costumes aren't particularly attractive ( this also goes for the grassy curtain at the entrance to the theater).

The cast overall sings and dances exceptionally well. David Driver's voice almost makes up for his somewhat underwhelming charisma. And while Robin Goldwasser's presence on stage as Joyce, the Agway manager is a definite asset, having her husband and half of the rock band They Might Be Giants play Russ seems a less judicious choice as he neither acts or sings particularly well.

I've seen and enjoyed several productions from David Herskovits' Target Margin Company, and, of course, many from the Vineyard Theater. Both companies deserve praise for joining hands to try something different. I hope that they, as well as Greenberg and Goldwasser, will try again.

By Julia Greenberg and Robin Goldwasser
Directed by David Herskovits
Choreography by Jody Ripplinger
Cast: Chris Anderson (Chainsaw Dick), Robin Goldwasser (Joyce), Connie Petruk (Katie), Todd Almond (Mikey), Tricia Scotti (Olivia), John Flansburgh (Russ), Erin Hill (Terri), David Driver (Xanthus), Maggie Moore (The Vision) and Jeremy Chatzky, Joe McGinty, Dan Miller, Jon Spurney and Clem Waldmann (The Band).
Set Design: G.W. Mercier
Costume Design: Mattie Ullrich
Lighting Design: Lenore Doxsee
Sound Design: Brian Speiser
Co-Musical Directors: Jeremy Chatzky & Joe McGinty
Running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, without intermission
A co-production between the Vineyard Theatre and Target Margin Theaterat the Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street, 212-353-0303.
10/22/04 to 12/11/04; opening 11/04/04
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on November 11th press performance

Musical Numbers
  • Know What I Saw . . .  Chainsaw Dick
  • Car Alarms/The Meeting Song . . .  Russ, Terri, Chainsaw Dick, Joyce, Disciples
  • How Our Garden Grows--Fall . . .  Russ, Terri
  • At The Agway . . .  Disciples
  • The Wedding . . . Russ, Terri
  • Perennials . . .  Joyce
  • Enter Xanthus . . . Cast
  • Xanthus Saves . . . Joyce, Russ, Terri
  • The Hayride . . . Xanthus, Russ, Terri, Chainsaw Dick
  • Makeout Moon. . .  Terri, Joyce, Russ, Chainsaw Dick
  • Love's Too Mild a Word . . .  Xanthus
  • Dear Old Plants. . .  Russ, Terri, Xanthus, Disciples
  • How Our Garden Grows-Spring . . . Russ, Terri
  • Elizabeth X. Oliphant . . . Russ, Terri, Disciples
  • Wooden Sign . . . Chainsaw Dick, Xanthus
  • How Do I Tell You? . . . Chainsaw Dick
  • Dimension 6 Rock . . . Xanthus, The Vision, Disciples
  • Gravel's Coming With Us . . . Xanthus, Disciples
  • Sometimes I Look At Him/The Bill . . .  Joyce, Chainsaw Dick, Xanthus
  • 2x2 . . . Cast
  • Xanthus, I'm Getting Nervous . . .  Xanthus, Joyce
  • Jesus Christ, Xanthus Fucked Us . . . Russ, Terri, Xanthus
  • What World Do You Live In? . . .  Russ, Terri, Xanthus
  • You'll Regret a Killing Spree . . . Disciples, Xanthus, Chainsaw Dick
  • I Know What You Saw . . . Joyce
  • People Are Wrong! . . .  Cast
  • Go It Alone Song . . .  Xanthus
  • Enter X. Oliphant . . .  Cast
  • Everlasting Vibe . . . Xanthus, The Vision, Disciples
  • The Beyond Ballet . . . Cast
Tales From Shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Our Review

Mendes at the Donmar
Our Review

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


©Copyright 2004, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from