The musical "[title of show]" is just crazy enough that I love it.

This wonderfully creative, irreverent and very adult musical is being produced by husband-wife team Kevin and Aimee Lambes in partnership with Weathervane Playhouse in the tiny Dietz Theater. Final shows run 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, so get your tickets fast.

Director Kevin Lambes' zany cast of four — Tea Wittmann, Beni El-Dalati, Nick Glavan and Melissa Tippin — really let loose and embrace the wild humor of "[title of show]." The one-act, 110-minute musical chronicles its own creation as an entry in the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival, so it's completely, comically self-referential.

This show about two creatives and their actress friends writing a musical about writing a musical has layers that just keep going. Where is the line between the creation of the musical and its actual performance?

There isn't one, and that's a big part of what makes this show so funny.

The idea of writing a new, hit musical is sublime. But the quirkily inventive "[title of show]" relishes the ridiculous. Wittmann creates the looniest personality of the group as Susan, the actress who's a corporate hack by day.

Glavan is fearless with writer Hunter's highly off-color humor and El-Dalatim, as composer and lyricist Jeff, cracks us up by continually harping on Hunter's grammar. Rounding out the cast are Tippin as Heidi, the Broadway gypsy looking for her big break playing herself, and Michael Moyseenko as musical director Larry, who at times comes out from behind the keyboard to ask for recognition.

Hilarious moments include Glavan's personification of a foul-talking, blank writer's notebook as Jeff tries to get his ideas flowing. As the men battle writer's block, the two women become voices in their heads.

"Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speedboat," Susan sings in the tune "Monkeys and Playbills." This stuff shouldn't make sense, but in some odd way it does. Same with the show's crazy dream sequence that brings to life the performers' insecurities: Here, Susan sings "Die, Vampire, Die!" of the "vampires" trying to devour their confidence and creativity.

"[title of show]," whose title refers to the team's inability to come up with a title for its entry in the festival, is seldom produced in the Akron area. It has complex harmonies and witty, rapid-fire dialogue. At Weathervane, the gags are expertly handled, including the funniest joke about "gay-dar" that I've ever heard. 

This show, which moved to Off-Broadway in 2006 and Broadway in 2008, chronicles that transition as the five friends experience infighting in the very funny "Awkward Photo Shoot." These offbeat, downtown artists go through a creative crisis as they consider changing their show to gain commercial appeal on Broadway ("Change It/Don't Change It").

Who knew so much fun could be had with just four actors, a keyboard player and four chairs on a bare stage? For tickets, see www.weathervaneplayhouse.com

 

Dazzling students

Congratulations to Akron-area musical theater students Charlie Kadair and Margo Tipping, Walsh Jesuit High School juniors who were nominated for best actor and best actress for this year's Dazzle Awards at Playhouse Square. Kadair of Akron was nominated for his role as Cornelius Hackl and Tipping of Fairlawn for her role as Irene Molloy in "Hello, Dolly!" Walsh, in its first year competing in the Dazzles, also gained a nod for best supporting actress for senior JoJo Radecky of Bedford as Minnie Fay.

This year, 30 Northeast Ohio schools are vying for the regional high school musical awards, which will culminate with a Tony Award-style performance and awards presentation May 18 at the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. Seven students were nominated in each of the performance categories, with the winning best actor and actress going on to compete nationally in the 11th annual Jimmy Awards, hosted by actor Ben Platt in New York June 24.

Other top nominations from the Akron area, announced Tuesday on Fox 8 News, are Karsen Guldan of Hudson High School for best actor as the Phantom in "Phantom of the Opera," and Hannah Kulawiak of Aurora High School for best actress as the Witch in "Into the Woods."

Akron School for the Arts at Firestone High School's "Big Fish" gained three nominations: best supporting actress nods for junior Morgan Bedilion as Jenny Hill and senior Serrin Scrutchings as the Witch, and best costume design. ASA junior Ethan Korvne also won a technical theater apprenticeship for Dazzles week at Playhouse Square.

Aurora High's "Into the Woods" also received a nomination for Logan Jancsurak for best featured performer, best supporting actor nods for Drew Albrecht and Johnny Kushan, and a nomination for best technical execution.

Nordonia High School's "The Wizard of Oz" was one of three shows nominated for best musical, tier two. The school also was nominated for best student orchestra, best choreography execution and best ensemble/chorus. For Dazzle Awards reservations, see www.playhousesquare.org.

 

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.