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Theater review: 'Hey, Morgan!' at the Black Dahlia Theatre

October 20, 2011 |  5:00 pm

“Hey, Morgan!” at the Black Dahlia
Youthful ebullience abounds in “Hey, Morgan!” at the Black Dahlia –- the first musical in that prestigious theater’s history. The show, with music by Matthew Fogel, Isaac Laskin and David Richman and book and lyrics by Fogel and Laskin, is a bubbly divertissement that features lively songs and an endearing cast. However, stereotypical characters and smirking in-jokes prove an occasional drag on the action.

The story traces the life of Morgan (a winning Martha Marion), an affluent Jewish girl from Brentwood who is seen from age 13 all the way to her somewhat perfunctory death.  The bulk of the action concerns Morgan’s quest for love and her eventual marriage. Charming Meagan English and hilarious Adam Shapiro, who scores many of the laughs, play all the other roles, with Laskin functioning as a guitar-strumming singer/narrator.

In his logistically masterful staging, director Matt Shakman attacks his challenging material like Grant took Richmond.  “Morgan” is almost entirely sung and musical director Richman, who helms the excellent live band, elicits superlative performances from his game actors.  Choreographer Courtney Miller Jr. overcomes the constraints of the Dahlia’s small stage in ingeniously compressed dances that wouldn’t be out of place in a disco cage.

Granted, incessant “industry” references, met with hooting approbation by the audience, seem a tad smug, and the plot breaks little new ground.  However, what “Morgan” lacks in novelty it makes up for in entertainment value.  If you’re in the mood for glitzy escapism, consummately rendered, this could be your ticket.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Hey, Morgan,” Black Dahlia Theatre, 5453 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.  8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 8 and 10 p.m. Saturdays.  Ends Nov. 19.  $25.  (800) 838-3006.  Running time:  1 hour.

Photo: Adam Shapiro, Martha Marion, Meagan English.  Credit: Daniel G. Lam.