To See or Not to See: The Mad Ones
The Mad Ones is a show that has been in the works for a long time. There have been previous iterations (The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown) and songs from the show have made the rounds online. Now, The Prospect Theater Company’s production has taken the stage at the 59E59 Theaters, but, unfortunately, still doesn’t seem fully developed.
Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan (music and lyrics, respectively) have created a story inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road—indeed the title The Mad Ones is taken from a very famous passage in the book. Samantha Brown (Krystina Alabado) is a college senior. She’s her class’s valedictorian with a bright future ahead of her…but she’s not sure what exactly happens in that future. Paralyzed by indecision, she’s torn by what others in her life want her to do and what she herself wants to do. Her single mother, Beverly (Leah Hocking), is a brilliant mathematician who wants Sam to get an Ivy League education. Her boyfriend Adam (Jay Armstrong Johnson) is as ambition-less as it gets, content to inherit his father’s tire business. And, her best friend Kelly (Emma Hunton) is the “mad one.” She’s always pushed Sam to break the mold. Sadly, though, Kelly is no longer around to push Sam to live spontaneously.
The whole show is told in a series of Sam’s memories. They are the important moments of the past year that have brought her to her current fork in the road. While the idea of the story is good (it is, no doubt, a show that many young audience members will relate to and enjoy on the surface), the execution falls a little flat. The characters—Sam, Kelly, Beverly, and Adam—are clichéd caricatures. There is not much beyond the “good girl,” “the wild child,” the eventual townie that Adam will be, and the forceful single mother. While they all have their own internal struggles with what they want from life, they don’t really change much over the course of the show, but the actors performances were all very solid.
What The Mad Ones lacks in plot and character growth, it does make up for in some of the musical numbers. As one cohesive show, many songs sound similar to one another; there are, however, several numbers stand well on their own as songs for big voices (and, I should mention, the singing was great in the show). One of the standouts is “Miles to Go,” which, had Beverly’s character had more depth to her, would be a stirring commentary on the female experience in a patriarchal world. Another song that was quite lovely was Adam’s sweet love song, “Run Away With Me” (this is also the most popular song from the show: Jeremy Jordan does a fantastic cover of it), and Armstrong’s performance was pitch-perfect.
Overall, this short 90-minute show definitely has a good message to share, and the cast does a good job with the material they have.
For more information on the production and to get tickets, click here.