The road between our area and the theater district of New York has become a two-way street. Sure, there are still Broadway shows sending tours out which play here, and many local production companies mount new productions of shows that have played on and off Broadway. But more and more, shows that got their start here are moving up north.
Alexandria’s MetroStage gave us the world premiere of "Rooms: A Rock Romance" – a two performer musical with a score that ranges from folk rock to punk rock by Scotland-born rocker/composer/playwright Paul Scott Goodman and his wife actor/director/playwright Miriam Gordon last summer in a co-production with the Geva Theatre in Rochester New York. Now the semi-autobiographical look back at their early days transitioning from Glasgow to London to New York and back again has opened at Stage Two of the New World Stages.
It is almost the same show in that 350-seat house on New York’s West 50th Street as it was in MetroStage’s 130-seat house on Alexandria’s North Royal Street. I say "almost the same show" because there has been a significant change in the cast with Broadway veteran Leslie Kritzer taking the role of the young woman who writes lyrics, which was played at MetroStage by Natascia Diaz, herself a broadway veteran of note. Kritzer is a bit more nuanced and not quite as emotionally charged in the role but carries her half of the load with impressive effect. The co-starring role of the hard drinking composer is still performed by Doug Kreeger.
The play is fairly traditional in structure (boy and girl meet, fall in love, team up but break up only to get back together) but with a unique mix of the Scottish blend of skepticism and romanticism and a score of punk rock and lyrical ballads backed by a five-member rock band.
The hour and a half, one-act musical has the same fully formed characters with a strong attraction to each other and the chemistry between Kritzer and Kreeger works well and each handles solos with style.
Well known director Scott Schwartz, who guided the development of "Tick, Tick … Boom!" is at the helm and has polished the production nicely. The entire design team did sharp work here at MetroStage and that design has transferred intact (with a new sound designer, however).
The set design by Adam Koch is as effective as ever. While the story takes place in multiple locations, he provided a single set featuring a door on wheels, which the cast members rotate into different positions to represent location changes. While the battered white door moves about, the brick back wall remains exposed with two platforms for the musicians,
Throughout, the concentration on story telling never wavers. Each song has a narrative purpose and the story, brief as it is, is tellingly and satisfyingly delivered.
There is one notable difference between Alexandria and New York, however. The top ticket price for "Rooms" in New York is fifty percent higher than it was here at MetroStage. What would have cost you $45 here last summer now costs $69.50 on New York’s upper west side.
<i>Brad Hathaway reviews theater in Virginia, Washington and Maryland as well as Broadway, and edits Potomac Stages, (www.PotomacStages.com). He can be reached at Brad@PotomacStages.com.</i>