Long Story Short is Brendan and Val’s adaptation of a play by David Schulner called “An Infinite Ache.” Originally commissioned by City Theatre of Pittsburgh, and co-produced in its world premiere by TheatreWorks Palo Alto, Long Story Short wrapped up its third production at San Diego Rep, which ran from October 3 – November 1, 2009.
It’s a two-actor show, currently with a four-piece band, and in the words of the snazzy copywriters at TheatreWorks, it is:
A roller-coaster romance from the creators of the TheatreWorks/Off-Broadway hit STRIKING 12, this infinitely charming pop musical transcends two twenty-somethings’ disastrous first date to whirl, for better or worse, into a lifetime of love. One Jewish, one Asian-American, this funny, frazzled couple careens from new-found desire to old-time commitment, reckoning along the way the costs, the compromises, and the enduring promise of an affair you will always remember, a passion you won’t soon forget.
A few choice quotes:
“Every time I look at you, I turn into me.” It’s the kind of clever, compact line that pops up again and again in the dialogue and lyrics of Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda, the show’s married writer-composers (and co-founders of the band GrooveLily). Their music is equally distinctive. Vigoda is a top-notch violinist, and while neither she nor Milburn are part of the production’s five-piece ensemble, strings and piano (Milburn’s specialty) are a key to their score’s melodic pop-rock pleasures. The show’s sound turns out to be a blissful departure from the usual musical-theater tropes, with plenty of stylistic shifts but enough unity to hold together the unorthodox storytelling…This smart and surprising show — still in just its third production — is already more than a match for other small-scale musicals I can think of that managed good runs off-Broadway. Long question short: When does it go to New York? — James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune
The work is funny and true, and, like any marriage, Charles and Hope’s is beset by misunderstandings, negotiations, adjustments and tragedy. Humor is what gets them through. Expect to laugh a lot, weep a bit, and be totally swept up in an almost through-sung tale that’s told through expert language, (Vigoda) gentle lyricism (Milburn) and a grand feel for the inside of a long term relationship. As with the musical Striking 12, also written by Milburn and Vigoda and performed by their GrooveLily three-person band at the Old Globe in 2003, the music is not easily categorized, because it is a seamless marriage of rock ‘n’ jazz ‘n’ folk with an abiding musical theatre sensibility…Particularly haunting are the musical numbers “It Happens in a Moment” and “Live Like This,” and much midlife angst and gentle humor are limned by “Empowered,” Hope’s experience with being a middle-aged divorced woman. Many thanks to San Diego Rep for bringing GrooveLily’s Milburn and Vigoda’s music back to our ears and hearts. Fans may have to see/hear this more than once.
Bottom Line: BEST BET —Charlene Baldridge, San Diego Theatre Scene
Everything old is new again with likable LONG STORY SHORT: Contemporary, hummable and concise…Fans who saw GrooveLily’s musical STRIKING 12 at the Old Globe in 2003 will be familiar with Milburn’s songwriting — breezy, jazzy/pop numbers where the electric violin and keyboard lead the melody (the most memorable numbers are “One Hundredth of the Love” and “Letting Go”)…Vigoda’s clever lyrics make each number unique, particularly “Unpacking the Suitcase” (where the newly married couple catalog their likes and dislikes with the apologetic “I don’t mean to be a jerk but …”); “There She Goes” (where with each verse, a daughter goes from first grade, to her bat mitzvah, to rebellious teen, to UCLA freshman); and “Empowered” (where 50something Hope’s dating experiences take her from “empowered” to “emboldened” to “embarrassed”). — Pam Kragen, North County Times
Long Story Short covers a romance and 50-year marriage in 98 minutes and 17 songs.That’s quite a feat in itself – but it’s not half so impressive as the way it makes this old story seem fresh and new. Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn, two-thirds of the folk-pop-rock trio GrooveLily, workshopped the show last year; it has been updated and reworked for this delightful production…which plays through Sunday, Nov. 1, at San Diego Repertory Theatre. Kent Nicholson directs…The show sports a live five-piece band (strings and piano) and an eclectic mix of music by Milburn, generally of the folk-rock type, enhanced by Vigoda’s clever lyrics. It’s an old story, told (and sung) engagingly by a talented pair of convincing actors and fine singers. Will you learn anything new? No. Will you be reaffirmed in your humanity? Oh, yes. – Jean Lowerison, Gay & Lesbian Times
…the pair have a poppy, highly caffeinated songwriting sensibility that allows them to be funny, poignant, edgy and even occasionally shocking while powering through more than two dozen numbers, jumping forward in time without warning-and most importantly, never losing the audience. — Steve Palopoli, MetroActive
The songs (composer Milburn) blend various strains of pop and theater tradition with clever and sometimes sassy lyrics (written by Vigoda) to delineate character and enrich the storyline…This production is a must-see for anyone who loves theater, loves music and loves love. — Michelle Pilecki, Pittsburgh City Paper
This co-premiere with Pittsburgh’s City Theatre ranks as one of the best of the small musicals the Peninsula company has been championing in recent years…The 16 songs include two standouts: With its catchy hook, “It Happens in a Moment” invokes lore from Hope and Charlie’s ethnic and religious traditions. And “There She Goes” traces a daughter’s life from first grade to college and then through the inevitable distancing from her parents.All the pieces come together to confirm the message of a GrooveLily song from “Striking 12″: “Screwed-Up People Make Great Art.” — Colin Seymour, The Mercury News
For more information about Long Story Short, please contact Buddy Thomas at ICM:
Ph: (212) 556-6656
The piece is licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide.