The Theatre Factory in Trafford launched its 2001-02 season last week with a neatly staged execution of Morris Bobrow’s ‘Party of One.’
It’s a pleasant but lightweight collection of songs and sketches about the joys and aggravations of young people living with, and attempting to overcome, single-hood.
The show makes a feeble attempt to advocate the unmarried state. The opening number ‘Un’ asks why single people are classified as ‘unmarried,’ but married individuals are never referred to as ‘unsingle.’ Another song pays tribute to James Buchanan, our only single president, and a third extols the virtues of a home life that requires no negotiations over choice of channels, menus or activities.
The subject matter makes it a somewhat odd choice for a theater company whose audience seems to be made up of middle-age or older married couples. But the show’s arc is really about what singles go through to become couples – chatting each other up in singles bars, perusing and writing personal ads, nearing your 40s without a partner, moving in with someone and committing to marriage.
Director Tim Brady, choreographer Jerry Ross and musical director Janelle Garoff keep the pacing swift, weightless and bright, eliciting smiles and chuckles with the tuneful ditties and some spritely dance steps.
Four attractive, affable and agreeably voiced principal performers – Tim Brady, Courtney Hanley, Scott P. Sambuco and Amanda Slaughter – bring charm, humor and energy to the 105-minute revue that includes a 15-minute intermission. Sambuco gets an opportunity to show off his considerable dance skills. Slaughter displays a nice presence and a dynamic voice. Brady and Hanley weigh in with their harmonious voices and sharp comedic skills.
Three additional ensemble players offer an amusingly oxymoronic twist to this show about singles. Slaughter and Brady, who are husband and wife offstage, turn the show into a family affair employing daughters Jessica and Tory Brady, plus infant Sean Brady, who makes his stage debut and steals the show in ‘A Mom and a Dad,’ a number about single parenthood.
Set designers Tim Brady and Gary Surmacz segment the Theatre Factory’s extremely wide stage into three distinct playing areas. They’re united by a black and silver decor that makes it look like an upscale ’70s-style singles bar. Piano accompanist Garoff fits right into the scene seated behind a baby grand accessorized with a tall bar stool for listeners and an oversized brandy snifter tip bowl.
Ill-timed lighting cues and some dimly lighted – or more to the point, unlighted – scenes and areas are a distracting and recurring liability.
The Theatre Factory’s production of ‘Party of One’ continues through Sept. 22. Performances: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $13 to $16. The Theatre Factory, Cavitt Avenue and Third Street, Trafford. Details: (412) 374-9200.
Alice T. Carter can be reached at (412) 320-7808 or [email protected] .