The Thing about Men lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music by Jimmy Roberts

Dates and Venue 10 October – 7 November 2009 | Community theatres around Metro Vancouver

Director Valerie Easton Music Director Wendy Bross Stuart Costume Design Drew Facey Lighting Design Ted Roberts Stage Manager Louis-Marie Bournival

Reviewer John Jane

The Thing About Men is the new lightweight musical comedy from the same folks that brought us I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Much like Joe DiPietro’s other light-hearted musical revue, it explores aspects of relationships with engaging dialogue and delightful tunes with some witty lyrics.

DiPietro’s book takes its inspiration from an unlikely source in a 1985 German film titled Männer. In this adaptation, Tom (Stephen Aberle) is an advertising executive who still loves his wife Lucy (Annabel Kershaw) despite his rampant philandering. Lucy, an attractive blonde feels isolated from her husband’s affections and finds herself a new lover, Sebastian (Jonathan Holmes). Here the audience is required to participate in a willing suspension of disbelief. Even when languishing as a lovelorn dimwit, Aberle’s Tom appears to have a lot more on the ball than Holmes’ reading of an unemployed struggling artist.

Tom takes a sabbatical from his job so that he might win back Lucy. When Sabastian needs a room-mate, Tom offers to pay a larger portion of the rent to move in. What follows is classic farce, with Tom and Sabastian becoming good friends, while retaining their rivalry for Lucy (further suspension of disbelief needed here).

Musically, the score is somewhat antediluvian, although the entire cast deliver the songs heroically. The melancholic numbers like The Greatest Friend and The Better Man Won work particularly well – thanks mainly to Stephen Aberle’s fine delivery. An exception is the lively (Downtown, four flight, walk up) Bohemian Slum that describes Sabastian’s apartment.

Mike Kovac and Erin Palm provide stellar support filling in all the minor roles; while a talented versatile trio led by Wendy Bross Stuart on keyboards provide inspired live, on stage accompaniment.

Strategically placed ply board cut-outs of perspective high-rise buildings give Pam Johnson’s set a cartoonish inner-city look – an odd choice considering nearly all the scenes take place indoors.

If you enjoy small theatre comedy, you may want to catch this show on its way round community theatres in the Lower Mainland, you likely won’t be disappointed.

The production continues its tour on13 October until 24 October at Surrey Arts Centre, returning to the North Shore on 24 October for just one performance at the Kay Meek Centre, then on to other venues in the Lower Mainland.

© 2009 John Jane