Sunday, March 5, 2017

In Transit

In Transit is a feel good show that makes New York City look like a squeaky clean place where everyone gets alone, smiles at one another, and finds their path in life. I wish this were true, but those who live here know differently. When is the last time you spoke to a random stranger on the subway? We don't look up from our phones long enough to make eye contact, let alone actually have a conversation.

In Transit is the first Broadway musical to feature a cappella music. The creative team features Kristen Anderson-Lopez of Frozen fame, though this piece doesn't soar nearly as high. One's opinion of this show will depend largely on their fondness for a cappella music. I honestly find it exhausting to listen to. For me it's overwhelming to hear all of that sound and try to take it in while also trying to decipher lyrics and a story. If you sang in one of those vocal groups with a quirky name in college, you may feel differently.

This one-act goes by at a feverish pace. The intention is to keep the energy flowing, like a rush hour express train, though it keeps any character or storyline from fully developing. The majority of characters are stereotypes: the out of work banker, the closeted gay man with a born-again mother, his eager to be married fiance, a recently dumped twenty-something, and because it's New York, a struggling actress. These roles are performed with vocal precision and palpable energy by James Snyder, Justin Guarini, Telly Leung, Erin Mackey, and Margo Seibert respectively. The one character who is written in three dimensions is Seibert's Jane. She shows genuine heartbreak when she finally wins a Broadway role, only to have it stolen by a star. The best scene in the show involves Jane riding the subway back and forth to JFK, unable to get on the plane to her high school reunion and face failure. Boxman, a subway performer with whom she often crosses paths, gives her a few inspirational words that help her to press onward in her pursuit of Broadway.

This piece should do very well touring and regionally, particularly in places without public transportation. In this world, the subway is a land of opportunity where all of your dreams can come true. But, New Yorkers...we know better.

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