Reviewed by Benjamin Schwartz
Here’s lookin’ at you, film noir lovers.
A hip, new musical called Broadway Noir is shakin’ up the joint with its catchy pop score and irresistible punchy dialogue. Placing this musical in Three Clubs is a perfect fit as you sip a cocktail next to a live piano and muted trumpet duo providing the soundtrack.
Broadway Noir, written and composed by Dan Sugi, has clearly done its research on the genre, as it really nails some of the classic conventions: Perfect period costuming, expressionistic lighting, unexpected twists and turns along with dialogue that’s littered with one-liners and oddball metaphors.
The setup: 1940’s New York. A lead actress in a brand new Broadway musical, Dollar Worth Dying For, which briefly becomes a play within a play, has been murdered just weeks before opening night. Two of the city’s finest detectives run the gamut through backstage investigations to locate the killer and end up finding out… well no spoilers here. It is a noir, after all.
The piece overall is slick. Midway through act two the plot does tend to get a little misguided in its own complicated web of relationships and inciting incidents, but it makes up for it with standout performances and bits of humor. Roger, played by Nathan Ondracek, hits brilliant tenor notes in my favorite, Then They’re Gone. Lauren Byrd takes over every scene she’s in as the bell-like timbre of her voice attacks each note with confidence and precision.
With the show running just about two hours with intermission, it could use a little trimming, but is worth checking out if it fits into your busy fringe schedule.