Review of ‘[title of show]’

On paper, "[title of show]" sounds like a bad dream you might have after swigging too many mocha lattes in the East Village: Two New York buddies sit around trying to create an entry for the annual New York Music Theatre Festival; they end up writing a "musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical." As it turned out, Hunter Bell (book) and Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics) fashioned an exceedingly clever, instantly likable piece out of that real-life scenario.

"[title of show]," receiving its area premiere in a snappy production at the Signature Theatre, is a nonstop send-up and mash-up of all things Broadway, at once smart and smart-alecky, self-conscious and self-confident. It turns the theatrical process on its head and takes the venerable let's-put-on-a-show device for a wild spin, using some brilliant wordplay and more-than-serviceable songs spiced with clever melodic and harmonic turns.

The Signature staging, nimbly directed and choreographed by Matthew Gardiner, features spot-on characterizations and colorful singing from James Gardiner (Hunter), Sam Ludwig (Jeff), Jenna Sokolowski (Susan) and Erin Driscoll (Heidi). Gabriel Mangiante is the supple pianist.

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"[title of show]" runs through June 27 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va. Tickets are $52 to $76. Call 703-573-7328 or go to

Tim Smith

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