New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

New York City Theater

"Once Around the Sun"
Zipper Theater

“Once Around the Sun,” a musical about musicians has, to its credit, a terrific score. But, alas, it also has plot and dialogue that are embarrassingly clichéd. Only when the talented cast is rockin’ and rollin’ does the evening itself rock.

The story is the hoary one about a band on its way up, the sleazy promoter and the rich woman who pluck the lead singer from obscurity, his falling-out with his former colleagues and girlfriend, his rise to empty fame and his eventual return to what’s “real.”

Kevin, our hero, is like Icarus, flying too close to the sun (i.e. celebrity-hood) before getting his wings singed and falling back to earth (“Dream you can fly / You’ll touch the sky”). Playing for Long Island weddings and bar mitzvahs in a band his uncle runs, he rebels against the boom-cha jokes and lousy gigs. “The world is going to hear me,” he says, in a typical piece of dialogue.

It’s not Kellie Overbey’s contrived libretto, but the score by Robert Morris, Steven Morris and Joe Shane that eventually makes the evening. “You’re My Lullaby,” “And That’s Your Life,” “Lucky Day,” “Something Sentimental” and the title tune are among the highlights. Then there’s the hilarious “G-I-R-L,” written and performed as a send-up of American Idol.

The cast is strong, consisting of Asa Somers as Kevin, John Hickok, Jesse Lenat, Caren Lyn Manuel, Kevin Mambo, Maya Days and Wes Little who does double duty with the back-up band. As directed by Jace Alexander, the joint jumps when no one is spouting the inane dialogue. Actually, the most prescient line is, “Eventually, the only thing that’s going to save you is the music.” And it nearly does.

-- David A. Rosenberg
Aug. 21, 2005

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