note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Carl A. Rossi
Alex … Josef Hansen
Laney … Ceit McCaleb
Evelyn … Julie Jirousek
Tomas … Christopher Chew
I recently attended the Stoneham Theatre’s workshop of a new musical, THE GIRL IN THE FRAME; the audience was told the production will continue to evolve during its run but I assume the plot will remain the same: a beautiful woman steps out of a store-bought photo frame and into the lives of Alex and Laney, a young engaged couple forever at sixes and sevens; dubbed “Evelyn” by the enchanted Alex, the eidolon proves to be Man’s Best Friend (an angel in the kitchen; a tigress on the couch). After awhile, Evelyn decides to split the scene --- fantasies have free wills? --- and Alex and Laney marry. Following their honeymoon, Laney conjures up a hunk from a fireman’s calendar, dubs him “Tomas” and is carried off by him to the bedroom; Evelyn (un)expectedly returns to keep Alex company. In the end, the couple realizes that true happiness lies not in their fantasies but in each other’s less-than-perfect selves. A cute, extended sketch, this, with a few eye-openers: until she summons Tomas, Laney is as enamored of Evelyn as Alex is (Alex, however, sees Tomas only as a rival), and since Evelyn and Tomas theoretically don’t exist, Alex and Laney’s torrid affairs all boil down to masturbation --- what is Evelyn doing with all that whipped cream behind closed doors?
Mr. Desmon is fortunate in having an accomplished quartet to show him what works and what doesn’t: I last saw Josef Hansen as Seymour in Stoneham's production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and his Alex is more of the same: a Goof with a leading man’s voice. Ceit McCaleb makes an amusing little fireplug out of Laney --- the perfect foil to Julie Jirousek’s cornflowers-and-wind Evelyn, a mature Golden Girl that adolescents of all ages would gaze upon with wonder, not lust, in their eyes. (Isn’t there a musical version of SUMMER OF ’42 out on the boards? If so, here’s its Dorothy.) Christopher Chew is in fine voice as Tomas though his body language reads, “Could I please have my shirt back?”
GIRL’s poppy/jazzy score is green but has its moments --- “Pinch Me”, a mock-operetta duet between Tomas and Laney; “What Can You Do”, a wry showstopper where the eidolons yearn to be flawed; Laney’s ballad, “Man of Your Dreams” --- it may lack hit tunes but Mr. Desmon seems headed more towards moon/June/spoon than towards batboys and anthems. Time and talent --- and public interest and support --- will tell.