As we've written, plays such as The Unauthorized O.C. Musical have become the epitome of theater in Los Angeles: It’s based on a movie, the cast features some TV stars, it’s a parody of a popular TV show, and the tale is set just south of L.A. in Newport Beach.
Does this winning combination work onstage? The musical, which played Sunday night only at the Montalban Theater in Hollywood, is a takeoff on The O.C.'s pilot, with notable moments taken from the rest of the TV series and interspersed throughout, such as when Marissa (Molly McCook) shot Trey and prompted the “Mmm whatcha say” on Saturday Night Live. Or Seth (Brendan Robinson) and Summer's (Greer Grammer) Spider-Man kiss.
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The show elicits laughs, but they mostly come from the original pilot's solid writing rather than any lampooning the parody treatment provides. The cast was bland, and a few actors were off-pitch when they sang, but this wasn’t a full production — it was more of an elaborate staged reading.
Robinson’s Seth was a highlight of the musical, along with the woefully underused pop singer Betty Who, who played several supporting roles.
Music director Elmo Zapp’s arrangements of classic songs from the show's soundtracks were beautiful and slipped nicely into the script, which was adapted by Lindsey Rosin, who also directed.