Friday, February 12, 2016


Tinderella: The Modern Musical
Christian B. Schmidt (Music), Weston Scott (Lyrics) & Rose Oser (Book)

Weston Scott, Audrey Baker, Marisa Conroy, Kevin Singer & Alex Bonte
When it comes to finding a first date; a soul mate; or a jump-in-the-bed-one-night escape, that potential dreamboat is just a click (or on the app Tinder, a swipe) away in today’s Internet World.  No more does the lovelorn go to a bar, hang along the wall, and look desperately (without looking desperate) for someone to make eye contact.  Now on Tinder, you just swipe to the right and wait (and maybe wait and wait) until someone else also swipes you to the right of screen and then ‘ta-dah’:  A match made in heaven ... or at least in cyberspace.  With clever, gritty lyrics (Weston Scott); music of mixed genres but always with today’s beat (Christian B. Schmidt); and a book that snaps and sizzles (Rose Oser), FaultLine Theater presents in world premiere Tinderella: The Modern Musical – a modern fairy tale with no happy ending guaranteed but a lot of sex and excitement getting there.

In a rousing and fun opening number, four twenty-somethings with cell phones in hand excitedly seek “The Next Big Thing.”  Their hopes that “the next big thing is someone new... the next big thing is love” are countered repeatedly with each stepping forward to belt, “What next?”, “What now?”, “Who cares?”, “Fuck me.”  In the next seventy-five minutes, these four will mix and mingle their fates in their searches for an alternative to sitting at home alone. 

Meg (Marissa Conroy) has yet again tried the traditional bar scene.  She wakes in bed with a Trump-loving, young Republican, Neal (Alex Bonte), who next morning in his tight (and revealing) Calvin Klein undies dances all around her, singing in rousingly clear voice, “You’ll be the perfect Stepford wife” and “After two years, we’ll have two kids and a horse.”  Dashing back home and now with her broom and a downtrodden face full of gloom, Meg is met by apartment mate, Dylan, (Weston Scott in his pink Snuggie with blue clouds) who admonishes her, “You’re still living in 2012 ... Wake up and smell the Tinder.”  Singing in raspy voice, Dylan outlines the promise of Tinder as a date-finder: “If you’re straight and white and nice, it’s magic, more or less.”

Kevin Singer, Audrey Baker & Alex Bonte
The over-sized, foul-mouthed, sassy, gay teddy bear turns out to be Meg’s fairy godmother-of-sorts, creating her online Tinder profile and turning her plain-Jane outfit into red dazzle (complete with knock-out platform shoes from H&M).  The date she soon lands, we have already met.  Cute, seemingly sweet on line Marcus (Kevin Singer) is having a love-hate tug-of-war with his girlfriend, Julie (Audrey Baker).  The two have earlier tangoed over breakfast in high steps and low dips while absolutely bringing the house down singing, “Don’t Make This about Love.”  Meg is heading to be Marcus’s rebound fling, but she has been warned already about this guy.  Her sly BFF Dylan has scoured the Internet to find hanky-panky pictures of him with other hot babes – all played out in hilarious and extremely athletic fashion by Alex Bonte and Kevin Singer in drag, eventually with the entire cast joining them in a rambunctious “I’m Gonna Fuck It, Gonna Rock It.”

While each of this cast of five has brass-y and crass-y moments in the spotlight, Marisa Conroy as Meg particularly gets to show a full range of her singing and acting talents.  In a plaintive voice with elongated tones that ring true, she sings with sad eyes, “Here I am waiting for something, anything” as she sits looking at a blank, morning-after screen where no text appears.  She later sings equally impressively, “I deserve to be happy ... or at least just not ignored.” 

Rose Oser directs with online efficiency and never-faltering pace this able cast through scenes set and changed simply and effectively by Noah Kramer as Set Designer.  What is worn by all brings laughs at the right times and authenticity of today’s single set thanks to costume designer, Ramzi Jneid. Alex Randall has coached the five to dance with precision and flair on the small floor available and has added much fun to many of the steps and turns.  Music Director Matt Grandy accompanies on keyboards and provides ongoing musical interludes to blacked-out set changes.  Since the small, 49-person theatre opens into the always busy entertainment venue, PianoFight, the cast are miked even in such a small setting, probably to hide the bar noise (which is successfully accomplished).  While there is some over-miking at times, Evan Wardell has done an overall fine job in sound design.

FaultLine’s first-time staging of this new musical, Tinderella, is overall a big success with hip sounds, sexy silliness, and a relevant subject matter that should attract an audience atypical in the usual San Francisco theatre scene – those under 35.  But as one well past that age category, I also had a complete blast and left humming in a grin the rousing “Happily Ever After” finale, even when it did not all turn out that way.

Rating: 4 E

Tinderella, the Modern Musical continues through February 27 at FaultLine Theatre, located in PianoFight, 144 Taylor Street, San Francisco.  Tickets are available online at!tickets/cmt5.

Photo Credit: Clive Walker

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