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Theater review: 'Campaign' at the MET

October 7, 2010 |  6:00 pm

Campaign_photo_2

Mounting a full-blown original musical takes plenty of guts. In that regard, the creators of “Campaign,” a world premiere at the MET, deserve kudos for sheer ambition.

They also deserve a few discreetly hurled brickbats for the general clunkiness of their production, which fails to coalesce into a cohesive professional effort.

A chief obstacle is the uninspired book by Samuel Warren Joseph, who also wrote the music and lyrics with Jon Detherage, the show’s musical director.

The action revolves around the political campaign of Glenn Mann (Brian Byers), a gubernatorial candidate who routinely cheats on his wife, Elaine (Barbara Keegan), most recently with Brenda Malloy (Jean Altadel), his new press secretary. Smarmy though he may be, Mann is the “lesser of two evils” in this devil’s bargain of a campaign.

Of course, after they initially clash, Malloy falls hard for Mann’s campaign manager, Steve Meyer (Travis Dixon), and vice versa. That amour underscores what is intended as timely political satire.  But despite a few laughs along the way, the show seems stale, with retro musical numbers that sound like they’re being channeled from the 1950s.

Julie Arenal’s choreography mostly consists of the cast walking briskly in circles, but director T.J. Castronovo strives to keep the pace lively – and often succeeds. The actors strive to put this show across but lack the standout voices required to sell the musical numbers. Although she can’t sustain her solo, Keegan is adorable as a political wife who hasn’t lost her ideals. Easy, sleazy and hilariously clueless, Byers’ Mann is a comical stereotype that rings depressingly true.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Campaign,” MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood.  8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 7. $25. (323) 960-7612. www.Plays411.com/campaign. Running time:  2 hours.

Photo: From left, Julianna Zanville, Brian Byers, Barbara Keegan, Jase Lindgren. Credit: Alberto Romano

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