Save Me a Spot!

Michael Van Duzer Reviews - Theater
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Save Me a Spot! is an entertaining new musical enjoying its world premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Chris (Clayton Farris) is a veteran slacker whose sole purpose in life seems to be following Bailee’s (Kristin Heitman) online video blog.

Bailee’s desire to see a Boy Band concert sends a newly energized Chris out in the world to wait in line to buy a ticket. He immediately runs into Hank (Kate Ponzio) who, despite her name, is female. Hank refuses to accept Chris’ obvious desire for isolation and gradually pulls him out of his shell with conversation and unsuccessful magic tricks.

In time, they are joined in line by a decidedly eccentric fellow named, Bird (Garrett Vander Leun) and, quite surprisingly, by Bailee herself. It soon becomes apparent that Bailee and Chris have a history. Discovering the details of that history is delayed when Bailee’s current boyfriend, a budding cacao entrepreneur named Miles (Brent Lydic), also joins the line.

Jeremiah Lowder’s book is broadly comic, focusing on the laughs that come when these quirky and opinionated characters are forced to spend time together. While the storyline stays fairly conventional, Lowder rejects the greatest clichés by ending the show optimistically, rather than fairy tale romantic.

Dan Waldkirch’s lyrics blend nicely with the book’s comic tone and are full of amusing topical allusions. Waldkirch also writes the music which is sprightly and tuneful in the easily accessible style of Robert Lopez.

Lowder also directs, keeping the action clear, and the laughs focused. He’s cast the play well, though the ladies have stronger voices than the men.

Farris is a master of adorkable. His goofy charm dispels the concerns we might otherwise have about such a feckless leading man and his more stalker-like attributes. He even manages to convince us that he enjoys eating Bugles.

Heitman does a nice job of differentiating her public and private personas. Bringing a welcome sweetness to the latter. Ponzio’s Hank is a jolt of crazy energy, though she manages to show quiet caring under the brash exterior. Lydic brings an aggressive cluelessness to Miles, and Vander Leun easily gets every laugh. Unfortunately, the role of Bird is, at this point, a comic device. Perhaps further revisions will integrate the character more skillfully.

Asylum @ Studio C    June 3 – 24, 2017    http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4369?tab=tickets