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    The Irreplaceable Commodity

    Commodity of errors

    "The Irreplaceable Commodity," a musical about young New York investment bankers, is cluttered with inadequately developed plot lines and never explores beyond the stereotypes we might have about its characters.


    Time is our most precious asset, according to "The Irreplaceable Commodity," a musical that follows three MBA grads through their first year as investment bankers. It's also invaluable when writing a musical, and this one would have been better served if more time had been invested in streamlining the book and defining the characters.

    Written by: Michael Minn.
    Directed by: Gary Slavin.
    Cast: Matt Boethin, Darron Cardosa, Scott Darby, Sharon DiCostanzo, Annie Edgerton, Bryan Fenkart, Lindsey Lake, Peter Mensky.
    Choreography by: Gary Slavin.
    Music by: Michael Minn.

    Related links: Official site
    Wings Theatre
    154 Christopher St. between Washington & Greenwich
    Aug. 8-24, 2003

    Creator Michael Minn, who did triple duty as book writer, composer and lyricist, crams so much plot into so many scenes that there's scant room left for the characters to breathe. Cool, competent, conscience-driven Barbara (Annie Edgerton) is the most full-bodied of the trio. Shy Southerner Chad (Matt Boethin) faces culture shock as he adjusts to New York City life. And Ken (Bryan Fenkart) seems like a character in search of a throughline.

    While likely true to life, the year-in-the-life premise doesn't offer very sound dramatic structure. Instead of presenting an obstacle that gradually builds to a climax, the show is a series of scenes that don't always augment each other and feel more like a revue of songs about corporate life. Barbara sings about a potential "Office Romance" with Ken in one scene, and by the next she's off to "Travel the Globe" without any thread organically leading into the next. Director and choreographer Gary Slavin gets his best performance out of Edgerton, who has charming musical comedy panache and plays the only character that makes an active life choice.

    Interestingly, Minn's best songs are humorous showcases for featured characters. In "Pyramids of New York," the bankers' new boss (Scott Darby) metaphorically details the pecking order of this pressure-packed world, and "If You Want the Job Done Right" has word-processing supervisor Jeff (Darron Cardosa) illustrating the importance of sucking up to his department. But several numbers could be shortened, and a few eradicated altogether.

    While Minn composes some catchy pop tunes, his lyrics don't probe deeply enough. The bankers are introduced, for example, with an opening number called "We Do It for the Money." That's just what people outside the investment banking would expect them to say, and it's a letdown when they live down to those expectations instead of defying them.

    AUGUST 19, 2003

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