Talk about malady, here’s a musical review without a single compelling note. SESSIONS with book music and lyrics by Albert Tapper is built around a psychotherapist and his patients who we meet primarily in group therapy. While the story is supposed to draw us into their human experience, it only latches on to issues that are both obvious and predictable. As musical theater goes, this is the stuff of amateurs.
The characters are introduced via their individual syndromes or diagnoses. These are not mere quirks, but the kinds of crises that fill diaries — women whose mother’s neglected them. Or like the wives whose husbands beat them, fodder for the tabloids.
There’s also a middle aged couple whose marriage has lost its passion, a young man who can’t get over his first girlfriend, a lost soul with a guitar who calls himself Dylan, and Dr. Peterson himself who reveals his own problems to his therapist, an unseen voice in the dark. Ironically, this voice created by Ed Reynolds Young is one of the most believable characters. And Scott Richard Foster as George, the young man who still pines for his girlfriend who rejected him several years ago, fortunately demonstrates some deadpan humor and personal charm. The rest of the cast works too hard at squeezing the life out of clichéd material.
To make matters even worse the music is totally unimaginative, indistinguishable from any number of nameless jingles. The lyrics too lack surprise, offering such tepid rhymes as Dr. Peterson’s “sometimes I know I’ll fail/when the insights I offer grow stale.”
If there’s pathos here, it’s about the state of musical theater and its lack of interest in challenging an audience. Other than that, the moral of the show, about keeping one’s head above the clouds is difficult to accept when you’re watching such drivel.
By Isa Goldberg
Peter Jay Sharp Theater
416 West 42nd Street
Tickets: 212-279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com
Through August 25, 2007