If the big-box jukebox musicals leave you full but unsatisfied, you might want to try the creative and tuneful sampler “Show Me Yours” at the Alcove Theater.
Subtitled “Songs of Innocence & Experience,” the focus of this collection is original works by Pen and Piano, the Alcove’s resident company of composers, lyricists and hyphenates of the New Musical Theater of San Francisco.
While the subject matter — vagaries of romantic relationships — is hardly new and not every song is a winner, the approach is frequently fresh and engagingly played.
Looking for love in the digital age gets an adroit skewering in “I Googled It” by Andrew Klein and artistic director Anne Nygren Doherty, as the five-member company deploys online investigative solutions to its romantic insecurities.
Denise Wharmby’s smart lyrics implore an unseen suitor to “Take It Off,” but clothing is not the subject of her witty swipe at matchmaking services gone wrong.
A pair of gay-themed tunes make equality points pro and con, with accidental and intentional baby-making lesbians in Richard Hefner and Richard Isen’s wry “It’s Almost Funny,” and a pair of swinging gay guys contemplating their coupling satisfaction levels in Ben Prince and Pamela Winfrey’s rollicking “The Magic Number.”
Richard Jennings and Sandy Kasten’s “Kinky” is staged as a shadow-puppet routine, a clever concept that does not quite deliver in execution. But the staging sets up the next scene — Doherty’s tender ballad “Would You Still Love Me?” — in the sweetest, sexiest part of a show that is overall far more tease than strip (at least as implied by its title).
Other highlights among 19 songs and reprises are “Come On In,” a bawdy music hall turn by Paul James Frantz, and “In the Doorway,” Jerome Gentes and Klein’s thoughtful consideration of the challenges of those reconciling religious vocation with real-life needs.
Director Ben Randle, who curated the nominal book with Doherty, makes the most of the small stage, keeping actors moving and music flowing. There’s minimal interaction between the audience and players, which, for the production’s scale and subject matter, seems like a missed opportunity.
Chloe Condon, Jacqueline De Muro, Tim Homlsey, Sheelagh Murphy and Tom Reardon perform with gusto and with great poignancy in the show’s more tender moments. Ensemble vocals are strong, but the men fare better than the women on solos and duets.
Prince, also music director and pianist, wisely supplements his keyboard with Caleb Herring on bass, providing a nicely rich sound.
Where: Alcove Theater, 414 Mason St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Tickets: $27 to $40
Contact: (415) 992-8168, www.thealcovetheater.com