Book & Lyrics by Tom Attea
Music by Arthur Abrams
Directed by Mark Marcante
Theater for the New City
Equity showcase (closed)
Reviewed by Marshall Yaeger

This show treated such serious subjects as overpopulation, premarital sex, and AIDS with Professor Cochburn's 100 axioms to ``just say no'' to sex.

The silly plot involved a priggish sociologist conducting a crash course in abstinence that worked only too well on his nubile daughter's desires.

Both book and lyrics were too arch, too erudite, and too disposable. The lyricist should avoid such overly creative choices as rhyming ``cheese'' with ``Antipodes,'' or bidding good-bye ``to spasms some experts call orgasms.''

More kitsch would have fit the ludicrousness of the book much better. The composer tried hard to be original, and a few sweet ballads weren't too bad; but the music was mostly worried and incoherent. One heard strains of Gilbert and Sullivan without charm, Kurt Weill without bite, and Sondheim's angularity without wit.

The real creative talent seemed to come from the choreographers (Craig Meade and Crystal Field) who went to town supplying amusing, often synchronized, visual treats; and the director, especially when he physicalized the ingenue vamping the object of her desire. At that point the show became what all of it should have been: clever, ingenious, fast-paced, and funny.

The attractive and seasoned actors' voices were pleasant, though not outstanding. Paul Hoover's fussy Dr. Cochburn, having written his just-say-no sex manual and expecting to pick up a Nobel for his efforts, was a kind of Peter Allen in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood. He lacked credible passion in the final clinch, when the authors, instead of punishing his character's outrageous hubris, let him have the girl.

Ray Collum was special as the foxy romantic lead (named ``Dan Fox''), who burst upon the stage the way that earnest Broadway gypsies do, selling his songs hard and livening up the proceedings considerably.

Nancy St. Alban as the ``campus virgin,'' model-perfect ingenue, wore a mean sweater and kicked high, low, and jazzy.

Pamela Cecil was attractive too; but her voice shocked with a just-in-case register for lower notes.

Details like real dust covers on stacks of Cochburn's make-believe books and Janet Rosell's costumes were impressive; and the Southwestern touches of Ian Gordon's and Tony Angel's set design and execution were inspired.

The lights by Mark Grossman were subtle and well-controlled; but shining a musical-comedy spotlight and Fox & Perla's barely discreet amplification of the actors' voices seemed like overkill for such a small theatre.

Will sex survive Professor Cochburn's axioms?

Probably longer than the show.

Box Score:
Writing 1
Directing 2
Acting 2
Set 2
Lighting/Sound 1
Copyright 1995 Marshall Yaeger
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