A country boy with low self-esteem, a taste for hooch and a penchant for 12-step programs sings about his crowded life in a cabaret version of the new musical, Nuthin', playing scattered dates March 4-25 at Don't Tell Mama in Manhattan.
Lyricist-librettist Tony Buckley and composer Mark York have developed the bittersweet but comic piece in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop over the past two years and are presenting the first public performances of the expanded show, in a cabaret setting. A 15-minute version was seen in a showcase of short works in May 2000 at the Century Center in Manhattan.
Mixing country, blues, gospel and Broadway-style show tunes, the musical concerns the journey of country-boy Jimmy Joe Jim Bob, who winds up at a Manhattan meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous following experiences with trailer parks, his wild mother, an excessively opinionated shrink, lovers, friends and more.
The piece began as a "long and rambling" story-song in the workshop, Buckley said, but developed into a larger piece. It runs about an hour. York said it’s ripe for expansion into a 90-minute piece for a more traditional venue.
Buckley is a lyricist and New York comedian. He has contributed additional lyrics and additional book scenes to composer York's Rest in Peace, a musical comedy being developed with director Baayork Lee, and the two penned The Toy Shoppe, presented in the "Dickens on the Strand" festival in Galveston, TX. York is an Oklahoma native who is a dance and music arranger and musical director in New York City (Kenny Rogers' Christmas From the Heart at the Beacon Theatre). York and Midge Woolsey are partnering for a concert series of musical-theatre songs in the New York area in spring 2001. Buckley and York are also developing a musical, Fresh Off the Farm (formerly The Porker Sisters), inspired by "The Three Little Pigs," about singing sisters tempted off the farm by a wolfish agent. Both York and Buckley are advanced members of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.
York musical-directs and directs Nuthin, which will feature Buckley as Jimmy Joe, and Meredith Suttles (as a militant therapist), Janet Dunn (as a performance artist-waitress) , Dawn Dorminy (as a southern-fried Triple A operator ).
Performances are 7 PM March 4, 9 PM March 11 and 18, 7 PM March 25. Cover is $10 with a two-drink minimum. Don't Tell Mama is at 343 W. 46th Street. For reservations, call (212) 757-0788.
— By Kenneth Jones<