‘Sleeping Cutie’ a fun, fractured modern-day musical 

click to enlarge Sleeping Cutie
  • COURTESY MELLOPIX.COM
  • From left, Stephanie Prentice and Marissa Joy Ganz appear in “Sleeping Cutie,” a fractured fairy tale musical by Diane Sampson and Doug Katsaros.
PlayGround, a local incubator for new plays, has birthed a promising modern-day musical that has old-fashioned charm, too, in “Sleeping Cutie.”

This story — about a financial swindler (a la Bernie Madoff), his coming-of-age daughter, and a sympathetic email pen pal he has from prison — is contemporary, funny, sweet, relevant and provocative.

Book and lyric writer Diane Sampson, whose first version of the show was a 10-page treatment presented at PlayGround, and composer Doug Katsaros, whose score gamely ranges from Broadway to ballads, blues and rock, crafted the modest yet delightful show, appropriately subtitled “A Fractured Fairy Tale Musical,” onstage through May 11 at Thick House.

Done on a shoestring budget with not much in the way of production values, “Sleeping Cutie” pours on the charm from the get-go. The first tune, sung by the full company of seven people, declares, “What This Isn’t” — there are no Disney characters, no broomsticks, not even an orchestra or pit.

Though the stage is spare — with just a few chairs, a table and computers being the only props — the sentiment isn’t, and neither are the characters, all of whom have a voice.

Father (Jesse Caldwell) types into a laptop, telling his story of being a financial king: how, upon preparing for a long prison stay, he signed his motherless daughter up for a dating service. He corresponds with the receptive and empathetic Woman (Gwen Loeb), a patient at a rehab center who, knowing him only as prisoner 7084491, is taken by his story.

Meanwhile, daughter Lucy (Marissa Joy Ganz), who stays up all night and catnaps by day, dreams of being a rock ’n’ roll drummer, but she’s scuttled when she learns her dad really is a scoundrel. And she’s not impressed by the guys who come calling. As Man 1 and Man 2, John Patrick Moore and Buzz Halsing (who appear in various roles) have fun with the “Song About Me,” a tune skewering cliches of today’s personal-ad-style dating scene.

But Lucy has some wise and compassionate people on her side: Mary (Stephanie Prentice), her longtime caretaker, and Charlie (Luke Chapman), a kind, blind suitor in a band called Tweezers.

Under direction by Cindy Goldfield, each character’s believable point of view comes through clearly. It’s bolstered by the musicians: band leader David Aaron Brown on keyboard, drummer Lily Sevier and bassist Vincenzo DeLaRosa.

The witty finale, a fun surprise, nicely explains the show’s subtitle. Perhaps musical lovers won’t have to wait too long for a revival, possibly beefed-up, of this highly entertaining fractured fairy tale.

REVIEW

Sleeping Cutie

Presented by PlayGround and Off a Cliff Productions

Where: Thick House,1695 16th St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes May 11

Tickets: $30 to $40

Contact: (415) 992-6677, http://sleepingcutiemusical.tix.com

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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