Is it ironic that in a show whose plot is based on plagiarism that I recognised so many musical phrases from other works in these songs? As a work in progress, Alick Glass still has a way to go with it. The story is one-dimensional and the book lacked wit and panache. Too much is reported when it could have been dramatized. I would have liked the songs to carry the story forward rather than the pedestrian dialogue. There is a lot of promise to build on here: if the un-named teacher is a secret drinker, make her a lush struggling to maintain her decorum – potential for some much-needed comedy. Maybe condense the bland, interchangeable school friends and develop the French singer Jacqueline. Make her of questionable virtue and send her to New York as unsuitable chaperone. Let her toy with Archie, so we enjoy a love triangle. She could even captivate Larceny to give him another angle…
Freddy Larceny is more a narrator than a character. Jeremy Secomb works hard to give him heft, but the part comes over as the villain from Victorian melodrama. He deserves more. Maddy Banks is convincing as naïve Michelle but her character is disappointingly passive. Ed Wade (not happy with his hair) was effective as the unlikely but obvious hero. Cory Peterson could have made more of the Adjudicator, either weasel or tyrant rather than falling in between.
The choreography achieved a lot in a small space but seemed outside any particular era. The lighting seemed somewhat haphazard with faces mottled with shadow for no apparent reason.
There are some pleasing songs, although some are mere snippets, over before they get established. With songs and voices so similar, I felt a wash of pleasantness when I longed for some true vitriol or wicked comedy. The best element of the production was the piano/bass jazz which acted as our introduction to the main event. The musicians stole the show.