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Off-Off-Broadway Review

Boomers: The Musical of a Generation

Despite a few entertaining ensemble numbers, some solid solo singing by Katy Blake, and a delightfully animated performance by Marvin Riggins Jr., "Boomers" is a bomb. Though it calls itself a musical, it's really just a collection of mundane songs strung together by a minimum of dialogue. There's only a whiff of a story, about a guy named Will who is a high school football hero turned rock star turned hippie anti-war activist turned cocaine-addicted deadbeat dad with a suicidal son.

Written by Peter Baron and Meridee Stein, with music and lyrics by Baron (and arrangements, orchestrations, and additional music and lyrics by Mark Sensinger), "Boomers" feels like a musicalization of a junior high school history textbook as it skims with insulting superficiality and simplicity over the defining issues and events of the Baby Boomers' lives: the ending of World War II, the formation of the Peace Corps, the Vietnam War, the Kent State shootings, the 1960s counterculture, and drugs. With just a skeleton of a plot, no character development whatsoever, and awkward, unimaginative direction by Gerald vanHeerden, the show plods along from song to song brightened only intermittently by Riggins' comic presence as Will's best friend, Blake's singing as Will's wife, and Kevin Fitzgerald Ferguson's lively group choreography.

The production is burdened by Brittany Loesch's clunky set pieces: plain cubes, chairs, and a table that the actors spend much time and effort rearranging in between scenes to little evocative effect. Also troublesome is the show's weak cast, led by Peter Davenport, as Will. Davenport does the lion's share of the show's solo singing, and his tight, thin, frequently off-pitch voice quickly grows unbearable. Even worse is his stiff, unconvincing acting. He is not helped by the choice to put him in a ridiculous-looking black pony-tailed wig during Will's hippie period but have him sport short graying hair and a bald spot when playing the character during both his teenage and middle-age years. Davenport receives little help from Charles Karel, whose clumsy, flat portrayal of Will's father represents "the Greatest Generation" as nothing more than unsympathetic, one-dimensional bigots. And the misguided ensemble members, who for some reason act like second graders when playing Will's fellow graduating high school seniors, contribute abundant energy yet little dramatic potency to the proceedings.
Presented by Ted Mozino as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival at the June Havoc Theatre, 312 W. 36th St., 1st floor, NYC. July 15–30. Remaining performances: Wed., July 20, 5 p.m.; Fri., July 22, 5:30 p.m.; Sat., July 23, 11 a.m.; Sun., July 24, 8:30 p.m.; Wed., July 27, 5:45 p.m.; Sat., July 30, 8:30 p.m. (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, or Casting by Holly Buczek.

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