I Don <3 U Ne Mor
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
August 22, 2010
The creators of the new musical, I Don <3 U Ne Mor, are not out to reinvent the wheel. They just want the audience to have a good time, and in that regard they succeed in spades. This new crowd-pleaser—penned by bookwriter/lyricist Daren Taylor and composers Frank Grullon and Cathy Thomas—gives the people what they want: lots of laughs, a likable underdog hero, a plucky ensemble, and enough high-beam smiles to light a black hole. At the performance I attended, the crowd went wild applauding and cheering for the hard-working cast of this well-intentioned show. If it doesn't break any new ground, or sometimes works too hard for adulation, the audience doesn't seem to mind.
I Don <3 U Ne Mor adds singing and dancing to the oft-heard complaint that modern technology alienates us more than it brings us together. Office nerd Ron is stuck in the stone age: he still uses a landline and doesn't have a cell phone. He's joined in old-fashioned solidarity by his best work pal, Sam, a sexy librarian type. But, Ron feels left out of office life, with everyone texting, tweeting, or writing on each other's social networking wall. Connections are being made everywhere except at Ron's cubicle. But when the internet company he works for undergoes a huge corporate merger (and he gets a shot at a big promotion), Ron considers modernizing in order to win the heart of Daliya, the hot office chick of his dreams (who can also text faster than the speed of light).
The production is full of energy thanks to a tireless cast that will stop at nothing to entertain. They are a funny and talented bunch and do nice work collectively. Dewey Caddell (Ron), Elise Link (Sam), and Joshua Doss (Jamie, the smarmy office villain) are the standouts, creating specificity with broad painted strokes. John Hurley directs with trademark flair and invention, and choreographer Curtis LeMoine's clever musical numbers reflect the show's spirit of maximum effort. Taylor's book fires off a lot of good jokes and supplies more plot than necessary (a nice surprise in this instance).
Where the production falters is in its decision to go without any amplification. On one hand, it's wonderful to hear a musical au natural for a change. On the other hand, the cast don't have the vocal chops to project over the band, so pretty much all of the lyrics are lost. The musicians perform with gusto, and although Grullon & Thomas' score fits within the overall thematic scheme of the show, a good bit of it fades from memory while you're listening to it.
Still, a sold-out theatre full of laughing, happy patrons can't all be wrong, and on that front, I Don <3 U Ne Mor gets everything right.