Nevin Denham is a morose N.J. basement band guitarist whose estranged up and coming astrophysicist girlfriend Amy Leonardo moves to New York City to be an intern for Mr. Tyson at the Hayden Planetarium. After the news of the impending disaster is broadcast on television they realize they still have strong feelings for each other and they set out on odysseys to reconnect. Along the way there are apocalyptic vignettes with homeless marauders, moles and a snake.
David Seamon’s book is a well-constructed compendium of sci-fi clichés that’s mostly sung through with his gritty and witty authentic rock score for which he wrote the music and lyrics for. There are pulsing Andrew Lloyd Webber tones amidst the chords of grunge.
It must be assumed that the show’s creative forces sanctioned Dustin Ballard’s amped-up sound design that drowns out words, jokes and nuance. Lighting designer Zachary M. Brienza achieves a fantastical dimension with its murkiness and bright flashes. There are muddy projections as well that add atmosphere.
Compounding the aural onslaught is the audience seating configuration of a narrow runway with playing areas on each end, and the audience sitting on either side of the runway. Director Jessica Francis Fichter has the lively cast in vigorous motion often on the runway, in the aisles and everywhere else. One sits on a contained, hard folding chair perpetually pivoting from side to side in an attempt to take it all in. Ginny S. Haynes’ stylish choreography has an accomplished musical theater pizzazz.
Henry Fisher’s commanding guitar strumming and cool front man moves is matched by his soulful intensity and sly comic timing as Nevin. Miranda Luze’s forceful Amy is quite appealing. Making the most of her offbeat as Neil deGrasse Tyson is the beaming and amusing Olivia London. Christopher Pasi, Joshuah D. Simpson and Brianne Wylie all have grand moments as a variety of characters who pop up throughout.
Before The Eleventh Hour! begins there’s a 30-minute musical pre-show with different performers every night. The full bar in the lobby has a “Black Void” cocktail that’s made with an ample amount of vodka. Drinks are allowed into the theater making for a social environment.
The Eleventh Hour! (extended through December 1, 2018)
Town Stages, 221 West Broadway, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.smugbugproductions.com
Running time: 105 minutes with no intermission