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POSTED: 18 JULY 2010

[title of show], by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell

Squabbalogic | Seymour Centre, Chippendale, Sydney | Until 7 Aug

I was overseas when the invitation to attend [title of show] arrived in my inbox. I thought perhaps jetlag was preventing me seeing the actual title  — or that I had been sent a draft invitation that had accidentally omitted the actual title.

Once assured that [title of show] was just that, I was intrigued by the premise — “two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical”.

Hunter (Jay James-Moody) and Jeff (Blake Erickson) are friends who decide to submit an original musical for the New York Music Theatre Festival. Unfortunately they have decided this with only three weeks till the deadline for entries, but undeterred by such trivialities, they throw themselves into the task.

But what will the subject matter of this original musical be? After some deliberation, Hunter and Jeff agree that the musical will be about them — writing the musical. If the idea sounds slightly familiar, it may be that, like me, you thought of Seinfeld.

The last show I saw downstairs at the Seymour was the delightful Gutenberg! The Musical! and there are also a few similarities here in the affectionate parody of the genre and the desire of two young men to succeed in their creation of a new musical.

However, [tos] stands alone as a funny, clever and original take on the creative process, with some quite poignant and honest observations about the pursuit of one’s dreams.

Based on the actual experiences of Jeff Bowen (music and lyrics) and Hunter Bell (book), [tos] really did make it into the festival. In 2008, Bowen’ and Bell’s dream came true as they opened on Broadway.

James-Moody and Erickson work brilliantly together. Their voices and humorous styles complement one another well, and the energy they put into the 90 minutes without interval is remarkable.

Very ably accompanied on keyboards by Larry (Paul Geddes), the lads also call on the talents of Heidi (Lizzie Moore) and Susan (Keira Daley) — and considerable talents they are. Both females are terrific comedic actors, and Moore’s voice in particular is astounding.

I’d advise grabbing a program and reading the [tos]sary before the show — as the program itself suggests, “get familiar with some of the more obscure terms used in [tos] before the show starts, bitches!”

There’s so much to enjoy in [tos], and the audience seemed to have as much fun as the cast. And how can you not love a show that includes such numbers as Die Vampire, Die and I’d Rather Be Nine People’s Favourite Thing, Than A Hundred People’s Ninth Favourite Thing?

[Insert recommendation here]