Todd Almond's Girlfriend, which played at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City this summer, was a throughly charming musical. His new show, Kansas City Choir Boy, now playing at the same theater, is an alienating experience.
The show follows a man (played by Almond) who falls in love with a woman (Courtney Love — yes, that Courtney Love) who eventually goes to the big city, leaving him heartbroken, until she's murdered one day, which helps him come to terms with their relationship.
In addition to starring in the show, Almond wrote it. Unfortunately, it's nearly incomprehensible, since it's barely structured, and the sound design (by Brandon Wolcott) is often muddled.
Almond's performance is fine, though his tendency to yelp-sing wears out its welcome quickly. But the show is really about Love, who defiantly takes the stage, daring the audience to critique her acting, her voice, even her existence. Though her voice is worn and her acting is flat, her presence is compelling.
Kansas City Choir Boy isn't an enjoyable experience. The show thinks it's very smart but it's impossible for an audience to follow, and it just doesn't sound good, which is an unforgivable offense in an entirely sung-through musical.
Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; through Nov. 8. (213) 628-2772, centertheatergroup.org