Brunch: The Musical

  • Date:
    April 1, 2009
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall.

    A Review by Tulis McCall.

    Well, this is an unfortunate piece of theatre. It is unfortunate because so much work has gone into this production with so little to show for it. There are some wonderful voices and one or two good actors. There is no story, though, which is a problem, a really, really big problem.

    The blurb about this show would have you believe there IS a story � the story of waiters working the most difficult shift of the week: Brunch. Now, considering the fact that almost everyone in New York has either worked in a restaurant/bar or done time catering, this is a very appealing theme. I hoped there would be a diner who would say, as one did to my friend Steve, �Is there any meat in the shrimp?� Or perhaps there would be a waiter like the one at O�Neals who told Nureyev he couldn�t have a table for 4 when there were only two people in his party. This would have required having the restaurant staff interact with the customers � and that is the largest omission in this script � but there are no diners. There are references to diners, specifically Kevin Bacon, and we see a few swanning across the stage from time to time, but they are of no substance. We are left with waiters who complain about diners we never see which reduces the event to watered-down bullion.

    The staff also complains about each other, and there is an instant female rivalry set up when the new girl arrives, sporting a headset, for her first day on the job, There is the requisite gay guy, Phillip (Judah Frank) who is actually pretty good, the bartender with low self esteem, the punk rocker who is about to blow, the steady chorus of women who never falter, and of course a chef who is out of his mind. The parts are divvied up as if there had been a checklist of types that were needed. Everyone gets a piece of the action with no one furthering the story. Even the two romantic leads April (Meghan Dreyfuss) and Jake (Tony Edgerton) haven�t much to do except wade through excruciating text, belt out a few notes, and figure out how to kiss without locking headsets.

    And finally, the music in this musical has no vitality and comes across as a series of auditions for American Idol more than anything else. The first number, �Sunday� would have been more appropriate as the finale. The set ups for the songs are so obvious you can almost count the tempo as the actors assume the position. And in a house that barely seats 100, the actors come onstage wearing headset microphones. L-A-R-G-E headsets that from a certain angle look like enormous facial blemishes. Not only do they look ridiculous, they are unnecessary.

    This is a case of Theatre 101 coming to the big city. It is on par with a good high school musical in nearly every respect, and a lot of people who worked on this � and they have worked very hard � will go on to other things. It is a stepping stone, and a necessary one. Brunch is a lesson in how not to create a musical, and those lessons are only learned by sticking your neck out there and working your butt off.

    Courage. Courage.

    Tulis McCall

    What the press had to say.....

    Anita Gates
    New York Times

    "You'd have to go to Broadway's Hair to find a more exuberant -- not to mention more rock-oriented -- current musical"
    Robert Windeler
    Back Stage