Both DiDomenicantonio and Porter have great voices, and they have a nice chemistry together onstage and in their duets.
—Joff Schmidt, Theatre Reviewer
"Today I sing a new song for Scotland," says would-be star Monica (played by 2006 Canadian Idol finalist Steffi DiDomenicantonio) at the start of the rock musical romance Rooms. Ah, would that it were so...because the tune that's sung here is actually pretty familiar.
The 2005 off-Broadway musical sees its Canadian premiere in this production from Winnipeg Studio Theatre, directed by local musical theatre veteran Kayla Gordon. A compact 90-minute two-hander, it tells the story of Monica and Ian (Tim Porter), a recluse who becomes Monica's songwriting partner - and more. As the two of them navigate the path to stardom in the late 1970s - from performing at a bat mitzvah in their native Glasgow to the punk scenes of London and New York - they also struggle to navigate their personal relationship.
Steffi DiDomenicantonio and Tim Porter in Rooms (Elizabeth Man)
There are bumps along the way, but you can pretty much see where the two are going to end up within the first few minutes of the show.
Not that that ending isn't very sweet, or that there isn't a fair bit of fun getting there. There's plenty of wit in writer Paul Scott Goodman's lyrics (he gets help on the book from Miriam Gordon). His music is more fitfully successful - quite a bit of it is decent, but somewhat generic, musical rock.
A couple of numbers from the show are standouts, though - Monica's solo "Bring the Future Faster" is a great rock anthem, and lets DiDomenicantonio (seen here last season in RMTC's Next to Normal
) belt with all her considerable force. And the duet "All I Want Is Everything" is another catchy and tremendously energetic number, giving both performers a chance to show off their impressive vocal talents. The music is well performed by a five-man backing band under Joseph Tritt's musical direction.
Both DiDomenicantonio and Porter have great voices, and they have a nice chemistry together onstage and in their duets. Goodman and Gordon don't give them an awful lot to work with character-wise - both Monica and Ian are more "types" than fully-rounded characters - but the two actors commit themselves admirably to those types.
But while it offers some pleasant enough tunes, Rooms
has very little new - or even particularly interesting - to say to its audience. It's likeable and inoffensive, but it's also pretty unmemorable.
is nice enough - I just wish it had more of a view.Winnipeg Studio Theatre's production of Rooms runs at the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre until May 12.
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