I saw *This Ain’t No Disco* at the Atlantic Theater Company on 8/4/18. It’s a new musical about Studio 54. It had gotten really terrible reviews, but I got a cheap ticket and wanted to see it anyway - - the songs were co-written by Steven Trask, who wrote the songs for *Hedwig and the Angry Inch,* one of the greatest musicals of the last twenty years. This is Trasks’s second musical.
It was TERRIBLE! The words that sprang to mind while I was watching it: Pushy. Desperate. Shrill. At first I had a hard time understanding the lyrics, but then I got used to the sound environment and could understand them fine - - and wished I hadn’t made the effort. Trask and his cowriters, Peter Yanowitz and Rick Alice, clearly felt like they had something to say and I imagine they thought the show they were writing would be exciting and/or illuminating. I give them the Nice Try award.
I kept waiting for something good. There were moments, but they were fleeting. In one scene the leading man went back to his hometown and had a power ballad in his teenage bedroom. I got a whiff of *Dear Evan Hansen,* but it might have just been the bedspread.
The best performance was by Samantha Marie Ware in the female lead. She has a strong, emotional voice and a sincere stage manner. The show came into focus when she was onstage. I’d like to see her in a good show next time. The thing that’s so unnerving about a show like this is seeing how much talent, energy, and work is involved in it. So misguided, so disappointing.
A random and amusing observation: this was the second show I went to recently (the other was *The Damned*) where there was a long line for the men's room. It certainly shows who their audience is. And it's a source of great amusement to women.
Here's a preview of the show. I just watched it with the sound off and it still felt pushy, desperate, and shrill.