Nobody Loves You
From "The Dating Game" to MTV's "Singled Out" to "The Bachelor" and soon-to-air shows like "The Choice" and "Take Me Out," television has never been far from the ready-made romance genre. It appears that our curiosity into the intimate lives of others still burns.
Playing on this innate inquisitiveness comes a new musical from Gaby Alter and Itamar Moses, "Nobody Loves You," playing at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at the Old Globe in Balboa Park.
Based in the modern day, "Nobody Loves You" explores the world of reality show matchmaking and tries to determine just how real reality TV is. Complete with a pop-inspired (albeit fairly forgettable) score, this show bursts at the seams with gags and one-liners about everything from hash to hashtags.
Jeff (Adam Kantor) is the studious stud du jour who finds himself fighting for the love of his departed girlfriend. That fight takes him onto the set of her favorite television reality show, "Nobody Loves You." Expecting to find his old flame, Jeff finds a delightfully over-the-top cast of characters instead including the vacant host Byron, played fatuously and fabulously by Heath Calvert.
Jeff reluctantly agrees to stay on the show as a way to gather research for a dissertation with which he has been struggling. An unwilling participant and outcast among the show's contestants, Jeff finds himself carried on week after week with his disconnect being mistaken for a playing hard-to-get strategy.
Finding every moment he can away from the camera, he befriends and then bewitches a production assistant named Jenny (Jenni Barber). The more Jeff rails against the structure of the show, the more he finds himself wrapped up in it. Being loved by no one and then suddenly being loved by millions, Jeff has to decide whether the love of one can be enough.
A romantic comedy, "Nobody Loves You" is certainly filled with both love and laughs. A brilliant ensemble cast including Nicole Lewis as the TV show's producer, Kate Morgan Chadwick as the repressed school teacher, Lauren Molina as the trashy slut, and Kelsey Kurz as the saintly do-gooder Christian drives the wit that delivers a gut punch to the audience and keeps them laughing out the door.
But it is Alex Brightman who steals the show. Playing Jeff's stoner roommate, then a grease-ball show contestant, and finally the prancing gay BFF of Jenny, Brightman nailed the only truly memorable song of the show that left several theatre-goers Googling the word 'hashtag' afterwards.
Michelle Tattenbaum guides this production well and Michael Schweikardt's scene and Tyler Micoleau's lighting design give the show a "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" kind of feel.
Emily Pepper's costuming had me wondering just where an adult-sized onesie can be found. Music director Vadim Feichtner and sound designer Paul Peterson brought a natural element to two often over-produced foundations of any musical.
A strong book and excellent cast leave plenty to love of "Nobody Loves You." Though I wouldn't be giving this show my own ultimate mix CD, it is a bedfellow with whom I was happy to share an evening.
"Nobody Loves You" runs through June 17 at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at The Old Globe, Balboa Park in San Diego. For info or tickets call 619-23-GLOBE or visit www.TheOldGlobe.org