Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to attend something I have been hoping would happen for several years...
A Peter Cincotti musical.
For those who have been reading this blog since its start, you'll know I am a huge fan of this young man and am always extremely confused when I have to explain to people who he is. We live in a world where Snookie is a New York Times best-selling author (OH COME ON!) and Peter is still playing to modest crowds? Really? Really?
(Ends the rant of our struggling, unemployed young writer...)
It should be no surprise that some serious talent runs in the Cincotti family, as Peter wrote this show with his sister, Pia Cincotti. (Pia also helped write a bunch of Peter's songs.) Collaborating on musicals is a tricky, emotional thing (learned that firsthand several years ago) and I'm glad the Cincotti kids were able to team-up and work-together. (I'm sure there are different rules when siblings become co-writers. You can openly fight and disagree and yell at each other...but still have to love each other and speak after it all.)
The musical took place in Monmouth Beach, NJ. My family moved from New York City to Monmouth County when I was a kid, so I was able to appreciate so many of the references that I never thought would be sung about on stage. (Sally Tee's Grille...Max's Hot Dogs...Strollo's Italian Ice...West End, NJ...which spans about four blocks and where my church is.)
The premise was over-the-top and ridiculous and along the lines of the Broadway hit Urinetown. A pool man is obsessed with chlorine...it takes over his life and nearly ruins his relationship with his wife through a comedy of errors. (Don't worry...there's a happy ending.)
Being so familiar with Peter's music, I found that the music in this project really showcase how versatile and talented he is. Peter played onstage during the reading and watching him was as entertaining as paying attention to the cast. He was so into the music, mouthing along, hands flying across his piano. (He needed to tune it at one point...ah, live theatre.)
(I've sat in audiences at my own productions in the past and I know what that feels like. Since I usually write comedy, I am always praying to myself. Laugh. Laugh. PLEASE GOD MAKE THEM LAUGH. I remember stressing over, "But what if they don't laugh?" before a show once and my friend texted back with, "But wouldn't it be worse if you wrote a drama and everybody cracked-up?" It probably would.)
There is also a number which mentions prosciutto repeatedly, which made me laugh because I had a joke about prosciutto in my play Pigeons, Knishes and Rockettes which was removed because nobody apparently found it funny but me! (I still think it's funny...)
The evening featured a talkback with Pia, Peter, the director and cast of the reading. Pia talked about how she started writing this as a short story then a novel, but realized she was better-suited for plays because she had problems with grammar. (I had the very same experience! I realized I was made to write dialogue and not much else.) Peter said that Pia was on his back for several years to finally start working on this project. Ever the gracious artists, they took one man's critical commentary with class, thanking him for the good points he brought-up. (He compared the show to The Book of Mormon, saying it wasn't as tight book-and-music wise. Oh, COME ON.)
(I was also happy to find the cast included Jason Collins, who appeared in the most beautiful musical at the YMCA two years ago, Signs of Life. )
My main gripe for the evening? Every single time I laughed...whether it be with everybody else or at a random moment, since I have a habit of giving a very loud "HA!" at things that nobody else finds nearly as hilarious...the young girl in front of me...and she was quite young!...would turn around and glare at me. GLARE. My two friends both noticed it and it was a running joke for the rest of the show. I started to try to lean forward and glare back, but she would turn back around by then.
When the cast bowed and I gave Mr. C an extra cheer, this young girl's father turned around and glared at me.
I guess it runs in the family.
(Seriously, it's an over-the-top comedy. It's not like I'm cracking-up as the Gestapo arrest Anne Frank, people...)
After the show, I made sure to introduce my friends to Peter. (Since we ARE able to casually talk to Peter, because, as I said before...he's not famous...which makes no sense to me.)
My introduction says it all..."This is...well, this is the next Billy Joel."
Or maybe he'll just be the first Peter Cincotti.
Either way, the guy's pretty much out-of-control with the talent. I'm so glad I discovered his stuff when we were kids, and I really hope we can work together one day.