Tuesday, December 9, 2014

High Fidelity, Blank Canvas Theatre

(Leslie Andrews as Laura and Shane Patrick O'Neill as Rob.)

This is a show about a vinyl record store, the freaks who shop there, and the equally obsessed owner Rob. There are also “Top Five” lists galore, so let’s start with the,,,

 Top Five Things I Like About High Fidelity, now at Blank Canvas.

One, it’s a musical adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel and the Stephen Frears film, both hilarious, and a lot of that humor is evident in this production.

Two, Shane Patrick O’Neill sings well as the record store owner Rob, even though O’Neill could make his supposedly dweeby character a bit more dorky. And his hot-and-cold romance with Laura is funny, especially when it’s cold.

Three, Patrick Ciamacco is nicely acidic as the music snob Berry, the Jack White role in the film, and as always his direction of the production is brisk and effective.

Four, the varied rock songs by Amanda Green and Tom Kitt hold up well. And thanks to Kate Leigh Michalski who plays Liz and Leslie Andrews as Laura, the tunes are mostly a treat.

Five, Rob’s Top Five exes show up in person and repeatedly, to detail his faults. In short, one of any guy’s Top Five Nightmares.

On the other hand, here are…

A Couple Things I Don’t Like About High Fidelity

One, the gaggle of record nerds starts out pleasantly weird, but by the end they all get pressed and washed and a couple fall in love. Including the defiantly dorky Dick (Pat Miller) who falls for a female fan of John Tesh! Even the Most Pathetic Man in the World ends up rockin’ out in a band.

Two, on stage, the funeral of Laura’s dad in Act Two feels pasted on and not convincing, a plea for emotional heft that isn’t deserved.

But overall the show works. Plus, the audience can go on stage and buy some vinyl records off the set for $1.00 each. I love me some vinyl, and I came away with eight new (old) LPs. So High Fidelity immediately soars to the Number One position on my list of Top Five Plays That Allow Me to Shop On Stage During Intermission.

High Fidelity
Through December 20 at Blank Canvas Theatre, 78th Street Studio, W. 78th Street, 440-941-0458.

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