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Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
By Lizzie Loveridge
Personals seemed promising, a nice idea, a musical taking as its base the advertisements in newspapers for people looking for a partner. Having opened at the New End Theatre in Hampstead almost two years ago, it has taken this low budget musical a very long time to find a theatre in the West End. So long, that I fear that in this time the personal columns have largely been superseded by the internet as a way for people to search for their soulmate.
Six composers have contributed to the music, three to the book and lyrics. It is being marketed as the musical written by the people who wrote the very successful American situation comedy Friends. I cannot argue with that but as I see it, the similarity with Friends seems to be that they both feature three men and three women who are seeking love. What we have here is a compilation of songs with the odd sketch, without any of the strong characterisation which is the great strength of Friends.
The show opens, the live band on a stage flanked by two mini sets, each with a door, a table and chairs. All six actors are trying to compose the advertisement which will describe what they are looking for and what they have to offer. The lyrics are witty, verging on the intelligent and the singing is of a consistent quality. A high school senior advertises for a woman to initiate him sexually, again and again and again, 194 responses he claimed! I liked a song where a man is about to move into an apartment with Linda when all his old girlfriends turn up in packing cases - some baggage! "Imagine My Surprise" sung by Vicki Simon is a super love song.
I found little humour in the couple who advertised for a dwarf in a Carmen Miranda outfit and, when he became indispensable, took him along to Disneyland. There are other sketches and songs but all need more of a story line. Personals just does not go anywhere and judging from the two-thirds empty theatre on Saturday night, it will take some heavy advertising for the show to go anywhere in terms of box office.