Presented by the Vineyard Theatre and Target Margin Theater, additional casting by Cindy Tolan, at the Vineyard Theatre, 108 E. 15 St., NYC, Nov. 4-Dec. 11.
Despite offbeat songs, colorful characters, and the presence of They Might Be Giants singer John Flansburgh in a central role, "People Are Wrong!" fails to make a lasting impression. The newest irreverent musical in New York is undeniably quirky, but sometimes the show plays as if it's too hip for the room, and does not garner many laughs in the process.
Julia Greenberg and Robin Goldwasser have collaborated on this Off-Broadway show, which strives to be outrageous but more often than not seems outlandish. The plot focuses on a city couple who move to a rural area in the Catskills. They immediately set about working on their garden, with plans to hold their upcoming wedding outdoors. Unfortunately, the pair encounters a cult group whose landscaper leader is actually from outer space. The charismatic green thumb has another plan for the garden—one that will aid in his quest to return home.
The writers have chosen to tell their tale mostly through song (musical directors are Jeremy Chatzky and Joe McGinty), which results in almost 30 tunes strung together by occasional narration. Handheld mikes sometimes turn musical numbers into concert sequences, a choice that prevents the plot points from coalescing. Director David Herskovits definitely keeps things lively, but even his initially clever staging runs out of steam long before the final scene.
The cast members possess strong vocal talents, but few of the songs make an impact. Flansburgh portrays a credible Everyman but, like his cast mates, he's limited by the often uninspired material.
Scenic designer G.W. Mercier has a lot of fun with his kitschy, colorful setting. Lenore Doxsee contributes the cheerful lighting, solid sound design is by Brian Speiser, and the mischievous choreography is the work of Jody Ripplinger. The rustic outfits from costumer Mattie Ullrich complete the backwoods atmosphere.