Theater review: 'Emily's Song' at the Hudson Backstage Theatre
The pop star heroine of the new musical “Emily’s Song” has a problem. It’s not the fact that her mother died in childbirth, her father disappeared and now has amnesia, or her lousy taste in guys. Her real challenge is being trapped in a soapy, 100-scene screenplay that writer-director Chet Holmes has shoehorned onto the stage at the Hudson Backstage Theatre.
The pop ballads by Holmes, his daughter Amanda, and Tom Shepard, express the resilience of a girl who claws her way out of grief into fame with the power of music. A kind of “Hannah Montana” meets “Tommy,” “Emily’s Song” has shameless commercial potential, if Holmes could free up — and smarten up -- his material. The show’s unbreakable father-daughter bond somehow transcends its own cliches, and the low-key charm of Tom Schmid as an idealized dad works well with both Haun’s punky starlet and Darcy Rose Byrnes, who plays Emily as a 10-year-old. (Other roles remain stolidly two-dimensional at best.)
Holmes, who writes business bestsellers and collaborates with Tony Robbins, knows a thing or two about marketing. At least he’s had the smarts to build the show around Haun, who looks great in Shon LeBlanc’s costumes. It’s probably only a matter of time before he builds a better mousetrap, one worthy of this paean to girl power.
“Emily’s Song” Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Ends Feb. 27. $34. Contact: 323-960-7788 or www.plays411.com/EMILY or www.emilyssong.com Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Photo: Lindsey Haun as Emily in "Emily's Song." Credit: Ed Krieger.