I have never had such a good time at a Fringe musical like I had last night at the delightful, hysterical, hummable, loveable, and deliciously gay One Night in New York!. Composer, Lyricist and Book writer Eric Tipler has a hit on his hands and I can’t wait to see what happens to the show as it moves on from the Capital Fringe.
With a thrilling and fabulous opening number to the outrageous finale this night was a night filled with great humor, wonderful tunes, perfect casting, exciting choreography, colorful and eye-catching costumes (by Elizabeth Ennis), five hummable and plot-moving songs, silly and poignant and damn honest lyrics, and a book filled with dozens an ‘fistfuls’ of gaffaws (HRC – your line got the biggest laughs of the night!).
What I experienced last night was sheer elation and optimism that I was in the midst of a composer – Eric Tipler – with a sense of humor who could also write a gorgeous 11:00 song called “Normal,” sung beautifully and with heartbreaking but yearning emotion by the talented and adorable Paul Luckenbaugh. Luckenbaugh gives an astounding and always-tugging at your-heart performance as Michael – a kid from Iowa who comes to The Big Apple with a slip of paper in pocket describing the ‘perfect stud’ he would like to hookup with during his – you got it – one night in New York!
And this is where Tipler succeeds where so many countless other ‘gay’ musicals I have suffered through have not – he makes his characters so human, so real, and so loveable that you can’t help rooting for them – from the dominatrix to his leashed lover, to the ‘Cock Fairy (an assertive yet determined and hopeful and funny Ryan Patrick Welsh), who would love to get inside Michael’s pants (who wouldn’t?), to all the ‘characters’ and frustrated and ‘single’ men who inhabit the gay bars that ‘The Woman with Wings and a Big Wand’ takes Michael and us to in Chelsea, The East Village, and to one of those ‘Tragic Gay Bars. Filled with NYC ‘characters’ who are searching for love and a ‘quickie’ to help them get through the lonely night. I have been ‘there’ many times and from the loud laughs and applause that rang through GALA Hispanic Theatre’s intimate space – my fellow brethren who attended last night – also suffered through the similar rejection and adventures that befalls Michael. And that’s why this musical works – we can relate and we can NOW laugh at all those once-hurtful and headshaking experiences.
And that leads us to the incredibly hard-working, talented, hip swaying bunch of guys (Paul Luckenbaugh, Ryan Patrick Welsh, Matthew Begin, Darius Epps, Pasquale Guiducci, John Jackson, Peyton Lynch, Logan Sutherland, Richard Weinberg, Rick Westerkamp, James Ellzy, and Charles Wright) on the stage who work their tushes off (they move set pieces too!) in 75 minutes of fast-paced hilarity and high-energy choreography by Director Craig Cippollini. This man knows how to work with talented guys because he has directed and choreographed massive productions of musicals at The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, and he puts his ensemble through a workout. You can see the elation and joy on their faces as they shake their booties and sway to the music. It’s infectious!
I don’t want to give anymore plot away but I do want to offer kudos to the designers who kept it simple and effective – Scenic Designer Eric Reynolds and Lighting and Sound Designer Michael Sperber, and to Musical Director/Conductor/Keyboardist A.J. Welch and his terrific musicians Helen West on Reeds and Billy Georg on Drums. And Kudos to Rick Westerkamp who not only danced with passion but also showed off his matriarchal skills, and to Darius Epps for his heartwarming ‘good guy’ performance as Steve.
It was one helluva night in New York last night, and if you don’t run and scoop up the remaining tickets for One Night in New York’s run that ends on July 27th, then you deserve to be rejected in a Chelsey or every DC Gay bar and by every man you try to pick up!
Running Time: 70 minutes.
One Night in New York! plays through July 27, 2013 at Gala Hispanic Theatre -3333 14th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.
2013 Capital Fringe Preview: ‘One Night in New York!’ by Alyssa Wilden.