Starting Here, Starting Now, White Horse Theatre Company, at Wing & Groove Theatre. White Horse, started last year by UIC grads to showcase musicals, seems completely flummoxed by this revue. Lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. and composer David Shire are known for shoehorning pretty good songs into pretty lousy stories (like Big, though Maltby also wrote some of the lyrics for Miss Saigon). But here even the songs are massacred--and since there's only a line or two of dialogue, that's all there is to the show.
The vapid plot is typical of a musical: boy falls in love with girl, boy secretly falls in love with another girl too, girls find out, and everyone is single again--but life, they trill, goes on. Even this simple story is barely comprehensible as sung by the three actors here: Susannah Martinek as the girl on the prowl, Marisa Tantillo as the girl next door, and Patrick Sarb as the boy who two-times them. Bland vocals and undeveloped characters are part of the problem, and frequent inaudibility the rest: though miked, the performers' voices are drowned out, even in the intimate Wing & Groove space, by Nick Sula's thunderous keyboard. Director Jeremy Morton also eliminated some songs and moved others, and the resulting sequence makes little sense.
Only at the end is there a bright spot: Martinek sings the clever "Crossword Puzzle" with such finesse and good humor that we glimpse what might have been.