The musical is set on the Jersey shore, on Monmouth Beach, where the ocean water is so polluted that none of the spray-tanned beach bums can veg out for the summer. Rob goes about his business, saving the town one pool at a time, and when he throws some leftover chlorine tablets off the shore, the seawater miraculously starts to clear up. So the city hires Rob to chlorinate the ocean. However, Rob's former pool-cleaning partner, a bitter wannabe architect named Andy, is jealous of what he sees as undeserved attention for Rob. He also wants to bed Rob's wife. Drama ensues.
Peter Cincotti's score sounds like any classic musical, and his rhymes are awfully obvious: rough/tough, handy/Andy. Edward Pierce's scenic design is functional and attractive, coupled with Zach Blane's creative lighting design. (He makes the blue circle on the floor sparkle like a pool!) Or Matias' music direction is fine, though Jason Webb's vocal arrangements overestimate some of the cast member's ranges. Jeremy Dobrish and Gina Rattan's direction is functional for the festival setting.
There's a former Billy from "Billy Elliott" in the ensemble, but Joseph Ryan Harrington never does so much as a jazz square, and Wendy Seyb's choreography seems more like blocking. The other cast members' credentials are impressive as well, with Broadway credits to go around. Michelle Federer, known for originating Nessarose in "Wicked," plays Rob's dowdy housewife well and dives into the role's subtle physicality. Aaron Ramey's rich voice suits Andy, and he plays the role as if it were Jud Fry in "Oklahoma!." The best part of "Ocean" is when a celebrity in the audience breaks the fourth wall and performs a soft-shoe number about growing a pair with our hero.
After the performance, the audience couldn't stop gushing. Maybe a catchy score and an unsurprising plot are all anyone wants. However, the Cincottis' show is as derivative and predictable as the ocean is deep.
Presented by Mouseface Productions as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Theater at St. Clement's, 432 W. 46th St., NYC. July 14–21. Remaining performances: Thu., July 19, 5 and 9 p.m.; Sat., July 21, 1 p.m. (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, or www.nymf.org. Casting by Wojicik/Seay Casting.