Original Story: Alick Glass and Suzanne Glass
Music and Lyrics: Alick Glass
Director: Warren Wills
Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty
A thrilling story that could have come straight from the celluloid of 1930’s Hollywood and some sparky music to back it up should have spelt success for Reputation. Sadly, maudlin sentimentality, gaping holes in the story, uninspiring songs and odd characters conspire to rob that potential from the production.
Wisconsinite Michelle Grant is a student in Paris, paying more attention to finishing her novel than attending her language and deportment classes. Spurred on by classmates, she sends the book to a company advertising for original stories to make into movies. Dejected after the story’s refusal, she’s shocked upon reading a notice about her story appearing on-screen starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable. With the help of Archie Bright, her lawyer, she mounts a defense against the plagiarist Freddy Larceny who shamelessly fights dirty to protect his falsely constructed, stellar reputation.
Attention to detail seems to be the main thing lacking from the story of the piece. Michelle travels from Paris to New York to fight her first meeting with Freddy. Is it feasible that with such a big thing happening, the story of her defeat at the first legal meeting would not have filtered back to her bosom friends in Paris over the course of the intervening, what, eight days? Especially when her friend Mary who accompanied Michelle to New York is sitting in the class with the girls when Michelle walks back in? The subsequent court case brings its own issues – her lawyer stakes his client’s success and his own romantic future on a court case he seems terribly prepared for and her father only shows up, without a shirt (naturally), to the final five minutes of her court hearing.
Taking someone to court to prove ownership of a major Hollywood screenplay is thrilling. Between the songwriting, cliches and the delivery, however, much of that energy is dissipated. Some good songs peek through – My Prince Charming and I Nearly Had It All are lovely, bouncy tunes. They provide a contrast with the trite stylings of What We Like About Paris and When I’m in a Restaurant. The musical managed to go nearly the full two hours without a pun on Freddy Larceny’s name, unfortunately, Glass finally succumbed to temptation.
Wandering accents from the cast (though Jeremy Secomb is clearly having a ball as the scammy, mob-affiliated huckster with words like “woids” and “moidah”) dampen the effect even further.
Ultimately, it’s hard to feel any empathy, sympathy or enthusiasm for Maddy Banks’ Michelle (who seems weak and almost willfully naive) or her cause, despite it being an issue that naturally inspires comradeship with the wronged party. There’s little actual examination of anyone’s reputation in the piece so from the start there’s a mismatch in expectation and execution – beyond Freddy using it as a cover for crime and Michelle’s desire to be famous (as a writer or screenwriter, we’re never sure). Whisps of a classic Hollywood romantic thriller float agonisingly by, unsnatched and sometimes even unnoticed by this potentially great story.
Runs until 14 November 2019 | Image: Donato