'The Lonely Few' review — New York's hottest queer indie rock concert

Read our review of The Lonely Few off Broadway, a new rock musical at MCC Theater starring Lauren Patten, Taylor Iman Jones, and Damon Daunno through June 2.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Rock fans currently have a feast of options on stage, from jukebox musicals The Heart of Rock and Roll (with Huey Lewis and the News songs) and The Who's Tommy to the '70s rock-inspired play Stereophonic. Now, Zoe Sarnak (songs) and Rachel Bonds's (script) original new musical The Lonely Few brings country rock to the stage, underscoring a love story between two singers.

One wishes we got to know those singers, small-town band frontwoman Lila (Lauren Patten) and fast-rising star Amy (Taylor Iman Jones), beyond their undeniable talent. They fall for each other before the opening number ends, asking us to root for them as a couple before we've gotten to know them as individuals, or the basis of their attraction beyond the physical.

What we do learn sticks to basic tropes about Lila and Amy struggling to lean into their sexuality in an unaccepting environment — a very real struggle, yes, but a common one in queer stories. Add in Lila's band members, also underexplored, and the show only has less room to flesh everyone out as people and as a group.

That, luckily, is where the songs come in. Are most of the songs thematically similar? Yes. Are they all bangers, and are showtunes about queer women's desire still so rare that I didn't necessarily mind? Also yes. (See also: my review of Lempicka.) Though the amped-up instruments drown out some of Sarnak's lyrics, the audible ones capture different facets of sapphic love and longing — the joy of falling, the pain of hiding, the fear of rejection by family and lovers alike — in a way that elevates them beyond surface-level rom-dram cliche as the script does not.

The Lonely Few is at its best when it becomes New York's hottest indie rock concert. When Jones charismatically commands the stage with "Bottle 'A Jack" (tailor-made to become a fixture of line dancing bars in 5 years) or Patten unleashes Ann Wilson-esque power vocals in "God of Nowhere," I was perfectly content to just rock out.

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The Lonely Few summary

Named after the band Lila fronts in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky, The Lonely Few opens in the dive bar where they play. One day, in walks Amy, an established musician with a history at that bar, and invites The Lonely Few on tour with her after her original opening act bails.

Sparks fly between Amy and Lila on the road, but Amy remains guarded due to a turbulent childhood, and Lila is preoccupied with worry over her alcoholic brother (Peter Mark Kendall), whom she left at home. These struggles complicates the future of their whirlwind relationship.

Lending support are Damon Daunno, Helen J. Shen, and Thomas Silcott (all wonderful, all underused) as the members of The Lonely Few. All but Jones and Kendall reprise their roles from The Lonely Few's world premiere in Los Angeles, which took place at the Geffen Playhouse in fall 2023. Trip Cullman and Ellenore Scott co-directed both iterations.

What to expect at The Lonely Few

Courtesy of set designer Sibyl Wickersheimer, MCC Theater's Newman Mills Theater is entirely outfitted to look like a roadside dive: covered in stickers and knickknacks, outfitted with a small stage perfect for small-town talent, and sporting high-top tables and a full bar at which some audience members sit. Unfortunately, the bar is not functional, but that's because the actors have to walk on and around it. A few also chat with the audience before the show, adding to the intimate feel.

As The Lonely Few is largely a rock concert, and the venue is small, the music blares loud. But if you forget your earplugs, don't worry — MCC has them freely available at the door.

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What audiences are saying about The Lonely Few

At the time of publication, The Lonely Few has a 78% audience approval rating, averaged from 78 ratings on the review aggregator Show-Score.

  • "See it if you would like an exuberant pop-rock ode to following your heart and singing the hell outta your raw feelings." - Show-Score user MSS
  • "After my trip to MCC last night I had an idea: Can you imagine a two show day of The Lonely Few and [Stereophonic on Broadway]?" - X user @JackieLeibz
  • "I also appreciate the descriptions of the wide variety of seating, “cushion armchair” “stool with back” “cushioned love seat”, super-helpful for accessibility planning!" - X user @AshleyAnnWolfe
  • "The story was fine, but I came for the music, and I stayed for the music." - Show-Score user Joe 2331
  • "Great hair. Amazing hair." - My +1 at the show

Read more audience reviews of The Lonely Few on Show-Score.

Who should see The Lonely Few

  • The Lonely Few makes for a great concert — if your preferred form of entertainment is live music in bars and other intimate venues, you'll get that vibe here.
  • Those who want to see more sapphic love stories on stage and enjoyed musicals like Lempicka and The Prom shouldn't miss the latest addition to the genre.
  • If you enjoyed the lead actors' past work, they deliver everything you'd want here. In particular, Patten shows off the barn-burning vocals that earned her a Tony Award for Jagged Little Pill, and Damon Daunno brings the twangy charm that endeared him to audiences in 2019's Oklahoma! revival.

Learn more about The Lonely Few off Broadway

The Lonely Few needs a few rewrites to fully develop its characters, but I am desperately hoping a cast album comes out. It will be the only thing I listen to for weeks.

Learn more and get The Lonely Few tickets on New York Theatre Guide. The Lonely Few is at MCC Theater through June 2.

Photo credit: The Lonely Few off Broadway. (Photos by Joan Marcus)

Originally published on

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