Someone To Belong To, a self-proclaimed, “sweet little love story,” starts out with lyrics that are sure to cause any New Yorker sitting in the audience to nod their head in agreement. “A typical day in New York is no cause for popping a champagne cork,” sings the ensemble. Based on the book by Lori Steele and Christine DeNoon, this new musical with music and lyrics by David DeNoon, has its celebratory moments.
Set in 1963, Someone To Belong To revolves around two love stories involving four main characters. Davis (played by Chris Ware), a writer who feels he’s wasting his potential working in an advertising agency, falls for his often-frazzled but endearing secretary, Annie (played by Samantha Eggers). Unfortunately, Annie becomes engaged to cheesemaker Ted, played to comedic perfection by Jonathan Desley. Two other copywriters at the advertising agency, the strong and determined Lois (Katherine Henly) and the ladies’ man Joe (Justin Colombo) are in an open relationship. This works for the two non-committal flirts until Joe realizes he may have fallen in love. The core cast is solid but the real standout is the hilarious secretary Miss Sasslebaum, played by Carla Nager.
When Christine DeNoon’s father, David DeNoon, passed away, she had no idea that he had penned over 100 songs. Upon finding them in 2012, seven years after his death, she decided that they deserved to be heard and gathered a team to shape 11 of his songs into a musical. The show’s memorable anthem, “The Great American Would-Be Novelist,” essentially tells the story of DeNoon’s real life. A talented songwriter, DeNoon, like the character Davis, felt trapped working as a copy editor at an advertising agency.
Many of DeNoon’s songs contain clever, catchy lyrics such as “Here’s To Manhattan,” “Some Get The Bumpy” and “Don’t Bad-Mouth New Jersey” while others leave something to be desired. Christine DeNoon, who has experience in improv, certainly injects some laugh-out-loud lines to the script, though sometimes the jokes are somewhat cheesy (literally “You don’t like cheddar? But cheddar makes everything better! Hot damn I’m on a roll!”).
For a small New York International Fringe Festival production, the lighting, choreography and costumes are all commendable. Director Leslie Collins does a great job with the show, which while predictable, leaves audiences smiling as the curtain closes.
But as you understand the love-lives of Davis, Annie, Joe and Lois, you can’t help but feel that the better story already took place, when Christine DeNoon discovered her father’s binder of songs and decided to bring them to life.