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Delightful “[title of show]” at Beck

Roy Berko

(Member, American Theatre Critics Association, Cleveland Critics Circle)

Truth, well maybe the truth, can be stranger than fiction.  According to the show, itself, the musical “[title of show],” yes, that’s the title of the show, which is now appearing on stage at Beck Center’s Studio Theater, was conceived when one of the script’s authors received an announcement about a musical festival.  The New York Musical Festival, to be exact.  The NYMF was in search of new musical scripts.

The duo, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell (their real names and also the names of the characters in the script) decided that they could, in three weeks, accomplish the deed!  A script and four songs had to be written.  Bowen, who is a lyricist, supposedly wrote the words before any music was conceived.  Along with a couple of female friends, the duo wrote a script which was about them writing the script.

Much to the amazement of all, “[title of show]” was accepted for production.  During the summer of 2004, the quartet (quintet if you count the piano player who has some spoken lines) performed three times at The Manhattan Theatre Source.  Their set?  Four office chairs on wheels, a telephone recording machine, an electronic piano, some sound equipment, a few posters, a couple of smartphones, and a lot of imagination.  In September of that year, they performed it again for six performances.

Five new songs were written, a little conflict between the participants was added, some more short runs followed, and then the big break:  a limited off-Broadway run.  Then a bigger break:  a Broadway production in 2008 which ran 102 performances.  It won the 2009 Audience Award for Favorite Ensemble Cast.  And that wasn’t the end of the road.  In August of 2013, the show opened in London, numerous equity and non-equity local performances have followed, and the script was translated into Danish for a production in, you guessed it,  Denmark.

Not bad for a show conceived on a spur of a moment whim.

So, what’s the story?   You just read it.  Bowen and Bell tell the tale of how the script was written, how it got its first performance, and the stresses and joys of the writers and cast in developing the piece.

This is no great musical, no “My Fair Lady,” or “Chorus Line,” or even “Espresso Bongo.” (Did anyone but me see “Espresso Bongo?”) but, it makes for a delightful sit, especially for those who have knowledge of  the Broadway theatre and its many stars.  There are many “in theatre jokes” and celebrity name references that might roll right off the ears of non-theatre geeks.

Does this mean, if you aren’t a member of the august community of theater aficionados, you won’t appreciate the show?  No.  There is enough charm to carry anyone to be intrigued about the toils and troubles of accomplishing the major task of creating a musical, even one without a name.

Clever songs include:  “Filing out the Form,” “Montage Part 2: Secondary Characters,” and “Change It, Don’t Change it/Awkward Photo Shoot.”  “A Way Back Then” is a tender offering.  BTW…want to hear a free song from “[title of show]?”  According to the Beck program, if you go to and enter the code Untitled you can get a free download from the original Off-Broadway cast recording.

Director Scott Spence has conceived a production that is laid back and comfortable.  No big production numbers, no complicated sets, no attempts to make the show a classic.

The cast also play rather laid back.  Though they are all talented, no attempt is made for anyone to be a diva.  Amiee Collier (Susan), Pat Miller (Jeff), Caitlin Elizabeth Reilly (Heidi), and Will Sanborn (Hunter), have all proven before on local stages that they are solid performers, with good voices, and concrete acting chops.  They use their skills well.

And, let’s not forget about Larry Goodpaster, the multi-award winning musical director, most people have never seen on stage, because he is usually in the orchestra pit, directing.  So, if for no other reason, here is your chance to see the cherubic Goodpaster, not only play the electric piano, but sling some clever lines and get lots of laughs.   Gee, he might trade in his baton for stage makeup.

Attention: “[title of show]” is advertised as “an adult” production.  Yes, some “F” bombs fly, masturbation is mentioned, gay sex and porn are alluded to, males are shirtless for brief interludes, and one of the girls removes her blouse, but not her bra.  You have been warned!

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT:  During the performance, when the cast of “[title of show]” are reading the show’s opening night reviews, it is revealed that panned the show.  The Beck Center doesn’t have that problem.  This review (yes, it will appear on, one of the sources that carries my show reactions) will be stating, ”[title of show],” now on stage at Beck Center for the Arts, in Lakewood, Ohio,  is a delightful theatrical experience, that audiences should enjoy!”).

“[title of show]” is scheduled to run at Beck Center for the Arts through November 16.  For tickets and information call 216-521-2540 or go online to