Theater/Cabaret Review: ALONE: A NEW MUSICAL (John Ertman and Joseph Mathusek at 54 Below)

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by Paulanne Simmons on May 22, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York

Creating a musical is not an easy task. Finding backers to produce it is even more difficult. When creative people have the fortitude and faith to take on such an endeavor, one wants to be as positive as possible. So it is with a heavy heart that I cannot fully endorse Alone: A New Musical. (There were two previous incarnations on June 28 and July 7, 2022.)

Fourteen songs from John Ertman and Joseph Mathusek’s score were performed by a stellar cast at 54 Below on May 21, 2023. With the likes of Taylor Iman Jones (Six), Zachary Noah Piser (Dear Evan Hansen) and Kim Onah (& Juliet) onstage, it was a powerful lineup.

But what about the musical?

All we’re told is that it’s about a group of high school graduates. During the show, we get the idea that there are some romances, one girl is pregnant, one girl has problems with her mother and there’s lots of gossip. But most of the songs seem to float in space with no reference point.

What’s more, the actors, who are much older than the characters they are portraying, do not seem to have been assigned roles but sing the songs randomly. This is fine for a concert but does little for the presentation of a musical.

As for the music, it is mostly generic rock, with a few power ballads. Some of the songs might have been more compelling in context.

54 Below is an intimate space, but the drummers (there were two who alternated) must have thought they were in a stadium. They played so loud that they drowned out both the singers and the other musicians.

Nevertheless, two songs did make an impression: “Leveling Up,” a charmingly awkward piece sung by two video game players, Cam (Ellis Gage) and Kelly (Natalie Pereira), and “Pictures on the Wall,” a song of regret, sung by Stephanie Israelson as Cassie, who is someone’s mother.

Not surprisingly, 54 Below was packed with friends and family of the many people involved with the show. The crowd was enthusiastic in its approval. We all need the encouragement of those close to us. But hopefully the creators of Alone: A New Musical will not mistake love and loyalty for critical appraisal and will get back to the drawing board.

Alone: A New Musical 54 Below, 254 West 54 Street

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