Menny And Mila
nytheatre.com review by Ryan Emmons
August 24, 2010
Menny and Mila is a musical comedy about a lonely young man who uses the internet in hopes of finding love. Certainly this is a subject matter many New Yorkers can relate to, with the popularity of websites like Okcupid and Match.com. Unfortunately for Menny, it is going to be difficult for anyone, whether they have double clicked for love or not, to like this completely self-centered character.
Menny has used a site with a home page that says "Russian Brides." We can see the site projected on a screen. It looks like the sort of website where you need to click that you are 21 before you enter. This is the site where Menny finds Mila and agrees to pay for her to come to America. They have an agreement that they will not get married and will only start dating if there is any chemistry there. Mila's short skirts and high heels help create the chemistry needed and they begin getting romantic. Unfortunately the more romantic they get, the bigger a jerk Menny becomes.
Josh Canfield, who plays Menny, has a great voice, with a keen understanding of dynamics and dimension. He also seems like an inherently nice guy full of passion and enthusiasm. Canfield even makes Menny likeable in a song where he sings about his passion for terrible "B" movies. He rocks the house with a musical number that has something he can believe in driving it home—the idea that people have passions and that it is fun to have someone to share them with.
The rest of the cast has good energy and keeps the play moving in between its rather long scene changes. Amanda Shy as Geri Siemasko stands out as a strong actress with presence, specificity, and commitment to every moment she is on the stage. Sarah Cooney also gives a fine performance with the song "They're Only Men," which is as anti-men as it sounds.
Paul Schultz wrote the book, music, and lyrics. The music is tuneful and fun and the book is sharp, but what the play is getting is not completely clear. The characters work at a tabloid, which could be hilarious, but apart from a couple of one liners and the feeling that these people were simply waiting around for somebody's head to roll, the fast pace, quick wit, and desire for disaster that comes with a tabloid environment is never fully realized on stage; nor does it connect to Menny and Mila's romantic storyline. It seems almost inconsequential that Menny works at a tabloid at all. The musical ends with the idea that all men suck, but maybe Menny sucks a little less. Luckily, Mila's a re-programmer, so perhaps she can re-program him...but my take is that Mila could do a lot better.