You don’t have to work very hard to find your way from the box office to the theater in Flying V Theatre and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts’ new co-production of You, or Whatever I Can Get, a spectacularly hilarious original musical about all my hashtag millennial problems; why is navigation so easy? Because all you have to do is follow a helpful trail of condoms affixed to inspirational Post-Its that say things like “You Can Do It!” and “On The Right Track!” And this outrageous entree to the show – an expanded and polished re-mount of what was the smash musical hit of the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival – pretty well summarizes the delicious disregard for political correctness and sexual decorum that makes You, or Whatever I Can Get such a gut wrenching pleasure to watch.
Behind the obvious humor, musical genius and all around theatrical awesomeness, there is an iron core of painful truth to You, or Whatever I Can Get: it’s always been hard to find someone, and despite 24 hour on demand dating apps, it seems like it’s getting harder. The #MillenialAngst is not so ironic after all.
The hero in these love adventures is Phil (Vaughn Irving, a gangly True Romantic who is in love with Lisa (the vocally excellent Autumn Seavey Hicks). When things fall apart on his thirtieth birthday, Phil relies on his clownish best friend Dennis (Doug Wilder), his party girl sister Jen (Farrell Parker), and his Type A roommate Victoria (Suzanne Edgar) to carry him through his quarter life crisis.
These four friends, who live right here in the Nation’s Capital (denoted by a few textual allusions, but mainly by the giant expressionist WMATA map that serves as the set’s backdrop), serenade us with tremendously exciting and hummable music. Music Director and co-creator Steve Przybylski leads the ensemble through a fresh, polished, and hilarious soundtrack that includes gems like “Skype Sex”, “The Last Sober Guy at the Party”, and “Tindr”.
Beyond the instantly likable music, it is the oh-so recognizable characters in You, or Whatever I Can Get that make it such theatrical click-bait, and the ensemble in the current production gives them a pitch perfect embodiment.
Vaughn Irving is excellent at capturing the infinitely likable if somewhat hyperbolic Phil. His belief in a shared millennial fear that 30 is basically the year of one’s death, encapsulated so brilliantly in the opening song “I’m 30!” set the exciting, rock-and-roll pace that lasted for the rest of the show.
Farrell Parker is great as the prickly party girl Jen, whose aggressive assertions that she is in her mid 20s, not yet 30, belies a fear that she may be incapable of love. Her duet with Phil where they wonder together “how could [our parents] not have fucked us up?” is both hilarious and heartbreaking.
Suzanne Edgar brought a special and compelling charisma to her role as Victoria, a classic DC career woman who revels in the fact that she has it all together – until we find out she definitely does not. Her awkward attempts at making love with her pervy boyfriend over Skype are told through the song “The Good Stuff,” in which I laughed so hard my abs hurt.
However, it is undoubtedly Doug Wilder, as the Seth Rogan-esque Dennis, who stands out the most in this unlikely mosaic. His Doritos munching, gaming obsessed persona veils a deep loneliness and insecurity. Wilder skillfully allows his character’s true vulnerability to shine through during carefully chosen moments, most notably during the ballad “Alone in the Apartment.”
Aided by a strong set design by Jos. A Musumeci and an engaging and emotive lighting design by Kristin A. Thompson, the characters moved through the world of the play with an ease and fluidity that defies the show’s serial scene structure. At the risk of sounding too vague, the whole show seemed to “gel,” a credit to Director Jason Schlafstein.
There is no doubt that aside from its overall greatness, the most notable thing about You, or Whatever I: Can Get is its on-the-nose satire of young urban adulthood. But it would be a mistake to assume that capturing the zeitgeist is the only thing this show achieves. In fact, what it is really doing is burrowing to the bottom of a question that has haunted far many more generations than this one: What does it mean to be alone with myself? And: What does it mean to be truly in love? I know – it’s all the feelings. But it’s also a strong dose of #awesome.
Running Time: About two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
You, or Whatever I Can Get plays through February 27, 2016 at Flying V Theatre and National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, performing at the Silver Spring Black Box – 8641 Colesville Road, in Silver Spring, MD. Fir tickets, purchase them
Flying V and National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts Bring Back Cap Fringe 2014’s Best Musical ‘You, or Whatever I Can Get’ to the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre From 2/11-2/27 by Heather Whitpan.