My Song | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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My Song, Circle Theatre. For a play that champions individuality at all costs, My Song is horribly contrived. Playwright John Green pushes too many buttons in this story of middle-aged music manager Velma, assaulted by the dual threats of bankruptcy and breast cancer. Green's insights into the music industry are sharp, but his characters are too flat to become more than stereotypes. Velma is a former peacenik folksinger, her hotheaded protege Rosa is a bohemian artist struggling with heroin addiction, and Storm--their nemesis--has risen to the top of the charts with her pandering sexually charged ballads. But though the play suggests passion is the key to honest music, passion seems entirely absent from these characters. And Green's script is too maudlin and syrupy to be compelling.

Circle Theatre has a good track record when it comes to new works, and the cast of this world premiere is solid. But the actresses' strong voices are wasted on a handful of dry, unremarkable songs, and the rest of the production doesn't do much to energize Green's episodic script. Todd Reemtsma's marbleized set is sterile, and Laura Stone's lighting casts only a sickly yellow glow over the stage. Both designers draw focus away from the action. In the end My Song--full of saccharine "bonding" moments, didactic lessons in fair play and sharing, and schmaltzy musical numbers--feels more like a Brady Bunch episode than a full-length play. --Nick Green

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