By Cuauhtémoc Kish | Downtown News
Itamar Moses hooked up with his old Berkeley buddy, Gaby Alter, to collaborate on America’s obsession with reality TV, called “Nobody Loves You” which plays through June 17 in Balboa Park. This delightful pop musical underscores TV’s overt focus on couplings, both gay and straight, that are engineered to boost television ratings and highlight the sordid underpinnings of lovers and other strangers.
Moses wrote the book and penned some of the lyrics while Alter wrote the music and the rest of the lyrics for the show. The storyline conceit lampoons television dating shows, which date back to the early sixties. In this make-believe version, it’s all about voting for that perfect couple. The twist is a contestant by the name of Jeff, played admirably by Adam Kantor, a contestant who tries hard to expose the hypocrisy and the romantic fraud of such a show.
Director Michelle Tattenbaum maximizes the generous portions of satiric humor from the well-written script, while Mandy Moore tops off the direction with some well-placed, zany choreography.
This well-paced comedy runs shy of two hours without an intermission. The cast of eight, many of them assigned multiple roles, hit all their assigned notes with ease, and make you chortle with laughter throughout the entire production. My favorites include a hot singable invitation into a hot tub, called “Come On In,” sung with lovely sleaze by Megan and Christian, along with another duet, called “So Much To Hate,” sung by Jeff and Jenny.
Kantor’s an exceptional singer who nails his part as the philosophy grad student who unexpectedly finds true love while researching his dissertation on ontology (the nature of reality). His love interest is Jenny, played by Jenni Barber, an aspiring filmmaker who is the show’s production assistant. Love blossoms when their intellectual and emotional commonalities collide. Alex Brightman does triple duty by playing three characters, including the engaging gay roommate, Evan. And Heath Calvert gives Kantor and Brightman some heavy comedic competition as the falsetto-singing host of “Nobody Loves You,” although he’s been gifted a barrage of lines that simply command untethered laughter throughout the show.
Lauren Molina plays a sexual outlaw called Megan against the handsome and well-built Kelsey Kurz, who plays a God-loving individual aptly named, Christian. Rounding out the cast are Samantha, played by Kate Morgan Chadwick, a contestant and teacher who is fed up with the dating game, and Nina, played by Nicole Lewis, the reality show’s steadfast producer.
Vadim Feichtner winningly heads up a below-the-stage band of three, while Paul Peterson executes a solid sound design.
On the surface it’s all fun and games, but there are some weighty questions being asked by Moses about reality versus those exploited, fame-crazy individuals under contract in reality television.
This wonderfully entertaining show may not find any theatre space on the Great White Way, but it should entertain in theatres around the nation for a good long time.
Nobody Loves You runs through June 17 at The Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. Performances are Tues & Wed 7 p.m., Thurs & Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 2 & 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.theoldglobe.org or call 619-234-5623.