New York Musical Festival (NYMF Part 4)

Play Like a Winner

Describing itself as a satire of girl’s soccer, this musical asks:  “How far would you go for your child?”  We are in the promising land of soccer moms, mean girls and Costco snacks.  Play Like a Winner opens with the coach lying dead on center stage impaled with a corner flag.  One of the soccer moms steps forward to tell the story.  Nice start.  What follows, however, is fairly generic songs and characterizations.  Two songs, “Sacrifice” and “Snack Mom” nearly achieve the goal of entertaining while poking fun at the absurdity of the soccer mom world.  As Coach Nick, Nicolas Dromard (Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins) delivers the best effort here:  the character is both exaggerated and believable, which makes it work.

The lyrics range from bland rhymes to overuse of the word “fuck” and even one mother singing to another that she is a “cunt.”  In another scene, the mother dons some leather to …. oh, never mind, who cares?  Shock value is not always an effective substitute for wit, satire or comedy.  I throw the flag and yell “offside.”

The Goree All Girl String Band

In the early 1940s, a group of women serving time in the Goree State Farm prison in Texas form a country and western band.  The goal is to appear on the popular radio show, “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls” and maybe, if they are lucky, get paroled.  Based on the true story, The Goree All Girl String Band is a winner with the finest orchestrations I have heard thus far in this year’s NYMF.

The music here is all original compositions and there are a pile of great songs, the first of which is the Act I closer, “Ridin’ That Train,” when we finally get to the radio show.  In the stronger Act II, we are treated with numerous well-written and sung character-driven songs which add dramatic heft to the proceedings.  An excellent cast and extremely fluid direction pull this whole show together.  The set is essentially a few ladders, stools, a radio and a microphone with some background lighting.  Simple yet perfect.

I expect a future for The Goree All Girl String Band as the show is so good already and seemingly would have major appeal to a wide audience.  My only thought would be to spend a little more time filling in the back stories of some of the band members.  The two leads are well-developed; we could use a few songs to get to know the other girls, especially in Act I.  Perhaps that is a quibble but this musical has all the elements to reach even greater heights.

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