The new musical Bright Lights, Big City received a generally dim reception from critics and will end its run at New York Theatre Workshop, as scheduled, March 21.
The Paul Scott Goodman show, directed by Michael Greif, had been one of the most anticipated new musicals of the New York theatre season, leading perhaps to undue expectations of it being `this year's Rent.' Previews began Jan. 31 at NYTW, the same East Village venue where director Greif's Rent made its debut in 1996.
In Bright Lights, a cast of 12 enacts composer-lyricist-librettist Goodman's musical retelling of Jay McInerney's novel of go-go '80s excess.
Scotland native Goodman himself, in plaid sneakers, takes the role simply called "Writer" in the production, telling (in the first person) of his love for McInerney's book and then interacting, singing and narrating (with a thick brogue) the story of Jamie, the grieving writer who hedonistically plows through New York City high life in 1984.
Bright Lights follows the sordid urban adventures of a dissolute fact-checker for a New Yorker-like magazine (here called Gotham) as he plummets through a boomtown world of nightclubs, bars, models and cocaine. Songs in the pop score include "Coma Baby," "I Love Drugs," "Beautiful Sunday," "Fact and Fiction," "I Hate the French," "Monstrous Events," "Brother," "I Wanna Have Sex Tonight," "Happy Birthday Darling," "How About Dinner at My Place?," "My Son," "Mummies at the Met" and the title song, plus others.
Patrick Wilson plays the searching Jamie. This is his New York debut following regional roles.
Other members of the cast -- wearing Rent-worthy face microphones -- include Jacqueline Arnold (Clara), Carla Bianco (Mary), Natascia Diaz (Vicky), Jerry Dixon (Tad), John Graney (Michael/Yasu), Napiera Daniele Groves (Amanda), Liza Lapira (Sally), Ken Marks (Alex), AnnMarie Milazzo (Mother) and Kerry O'Malley (Megan).
Novelist McInerney achieved his greatest success with "Bright Lights, Big City." Along with Tama Janowitz and Brett Easton Ellis, he became a leading figure among the '80's "brat pack" of young novelists. The book was made into a movie starring Michael J. Fox in 1988. McInerney's subsequent works, which include "Brightness Falls," "Last of the Savages," and "Story of My Life," have been less successful with both readers and critics.
For tickets and information on Bright Lights, Big City call (212) 460-5475.