BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
Created and performed by the makers of “[title of show],” their latest tuner with yet another appellation sure to make copy editors crazy is named “NOW. HERE. THIS.” A distinctively original effort, the musical proves to be a delightfully quirky piece regarding the importance of savoring fully the present moment.
Premiering on Wednesday at Vineyard Theatre, “NOW. HERE. THIS.” brightly contrasts the glories of the cosmos and world against the twittering preoccupations that distract and consume our attention today.
The musical’s situation sees show biz buddies Jeff Bowen (who wrote the music and lyrics), Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell (who collaborated on the book), and Heidi Blickenstaff (who’s simply a darling) spending the day at a museum of natural history.
As they contemplate the museum’s wonders -- or pay the exhibits no mind – these rather obsessive individuals variously ponder over things they have done in the past that prevented them from enjoying their times or from being their true selves.
Eventually these museum circumstances are abandoned for directly addressing the audience, while a poignant sequence regarding the final days of two fading grandmas threatens to become mawkish. But the friendly inherent charm that the performers project -- goofy Hunter, finicky Jeff, sardonic Susan and forthright Heidi – compensates somewhat for the text’s meandering ways.
The musical’s positive message about appreciating the now-here-this joys of our fleeting existence on Earth is well worth hearing and heeding.
The score’s more than a dozen songs often are fragmented and spliced into the ultra-conversational text, so it is difficult to characterize any of the numbers on a single hearing, but the overall nature of the propulsive music is breezy and upbeat. The warm vocal harmonies arranged by Bowen with musical director Larry Pressgrove (another “[title of show]” alumnus) sound especially mellifluous.