An Effervescent Burst of Energy
By Lauren Yarger
The question “your room or mine” takes on new meaning for a couple trying to find common ground in Rooms, a rock romance featuring great performances from Leslie Kritzer and Doug Kreeger who belt out contagiously catchy tunes from Paul Scott Goodman at New World Stages Off-Broadway.
The book from Goodman (Bright Lights, Big City) and Miriam Gordon follows the relationship of a Glasgow, Scotland couple who find fame in the punk music scene of the late 1970s. Ian (Kreeger) is a moody composer, content to stay in his room with his companion: a guitar; Monica is an energetic lyricist who can’t be contained by the door on any room (a door from scenic designer Adam Koch is moved around on stage creating the rooms they are in or forming a barrier between them). Director Scott Schwartz uses space well to define the characters’ personalities and development and gives the knock out vocal performances from both performers a stage.
When the two meet, it’s instant chemistry and synergy for a personal and professional relationship. Their story of success in London and New York is walled by different life goals, Ian’s alcoholism, an unexpected pregnancy and their split up and is recounted through choreography by Matt Williams and Goodman’s lyrics and music (a catchy pop style with punk sounds featured only briefly when the couple performs as The Diabolicals: “Lilly Filth” and “Perry Comatose”).
Fame, like their relationship, is short-lived, however, and after they separate, Ian strives to get his addiction under control while Monica makes a decision about the baby and whether to follow fame as a solo act. Her song “My Choice” is probably one of the most honest, moving, pro-life songs dealing with the emotions of an unwanted pregnancy you’ll ever hear on a New York stage.
The band under the direction of music supervisor Jesse Vargas, is terrific and you’ll have trouble leaving the theater without humming the tunes and wondering when the cast recording will be available so you can listen to it all again. Kritzer, whose Broadway credits include A Catered Affair, Legally Blonde and Hairspray, has found her breakout role. Her vocal range and effervescent energy burst on the stage and fill the room with an excitement that has the audience cheering.
Rooms a rock romance plays through May 10 at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., New York. For tickets,
Call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.roomsarockromance.com/.
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