nytheatre.com review by Kelly McAllister
Seth Bisen-Hersh is a promising composer of musical theatre, as his new
show, Meaningless Sex, demonstrates. Meaningless Sex is a
small musical about what happens over the course of an evening when the
cast of a fictitious musical called "Love Story" gather on closing
night. The four main characters are Matt the undersexed straight guy,
Carla the promiscuous diva, Joey the love-starved gay boy, and Beth, the
virgin of the group.
August 15, 2003
The story revolves around Matt and his search for happiness. Matt is played by Ari Butler, who brings a fantastic voice to the role, as well as considerable talent as an actor. His was my favorite performance of the evening. The character Matt is torn between Beth, the virgin, whom he says he loves, and Carla, the slut of the group, with whom he has been having an affair. As Beth, Amelia Morgan-Rothschild reminded me of a young Shirley Jones, which I found perfect for the role. As Carla, Courtney Markov is tall, dark, and sexy. The fourth main character, Joey, is played by Brian T. Hamilton, who has a beautiful voice. I hope he continues to grow as an actor so that his acting talent can one day match his voice.
Stand-out songs include "If Only I Were Gay," "Small Parts" (which isn’t about anatomy), and "Little Surprises" (which is about anatomy and other oddities). Bisen-Hersh has a unique voice, musically speaking, and his numbers rise out of the dialogue naturally. I only wish the book by Brendan Clifford was more effective. The characters teeter on the brink of stereotype, and the dialogue is at times wooden. On top of that, the acoustics at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, where the show is playing, are terrible. At times, it is very difficult to understand what is being said and/or sung.
As I see it, there are at least two compelling reasons to go see Meaningless Sex: The music of Seth Bisen-Hersh, and the performance of Ari Butler. I hope that this show continues to develop—there is potential for greatness in it, waiting to burst forth.