“The Black Suits” the new musical at the Kirk Douglas is trying very hard to be “Rent.” However, instead of angst driven artists squatting in a condemned New York apartment dealing with drug abuse and impending death from the AIDS virus, we have angst driven teenagers living with their parents on Long Island dealing with absent fathers and the impending death of their mediocre garage band. It doesn’t really have the same impact or social implications, leaving one to wonder why anyone other than a fellow angst driven teen would give a crap. Not to mention that the problem with having a storyline centered around a mediocre garage band, is that the audience is forced to listen to a mediocre garage band . . . for two and a half hours. And yes, there is a warm-fuzzy, tug-at-your-heart-strings resolution at the end, but unfortunately for all in attendance that resolution does not involve a miraculous improvement from mediocre band to amazing band.
The set design by Derek McLane is visually very interesting, and the cast, God bless em, do the best with what they are given. But with such a predictable script, on-the-nose lyrics and repetitive music, not even Neil Patrick Harris and Kristin Chenowith could have made this musical work. The only way that I could have disliked this play more, was if all of the songs were sung off key.
*Coverage provided for the Culver City News