PERFECT LIFE: THE MUSICAL by Jet Matas, directed by Evan Tsitsias, with Matas, Sean K. Andrews, Susan Dunstan, Lee Erdman, Aaron Kyte, Michael Lazarovitch, Daphne Moens and Frances Stecyk. Presented by the Perfect Life Collective at the Poor Alex (296 Brunswick). Runs to July 3, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 3 pm (June 26 at 7 pm). $12-$30. 416-817-7498. Rating: NN Rating: NN
If you're in any doubt that Perfect Life: The Musical is a vanity production, you just have to consult the artists' bios in the show's program. Composer/lyricist/writer/star Jet Matas has two separate entries, each with a different headshot. One grinning, one laughing.
I guess you could call this Imperfect Musical: The Resumé.
Matas plays Chris, a gay English professor (memo to Matas: Jane Austen isn't a Romantic era writer) who's single and looking. When he bumps into Adam ( Sean K. Andrews ), an old flame from university, in the gay village, the two generate some sparks. But confusion ensues when Chris realizes that Adam's engaged to a woman named Claire ( Daphne Moens ), who also happens to be Chris's roommate Sarah's ( Susan Dunstan ) old pal.
Matas, who's slaved over his dream project for three years, is a better composer than performer. The banal but tuneful songs aren't much worse than those you find in most popular musicals. I can imagine Celine Dion expressing interest in one or two of the cheesier ballads.
The strongest number comes when Sarah and Claire gigglingly reconnect, punctuated by Chris's and Adam's awkward outbursts. Another effective song shows Adam at his computer terminal writing Chris affectionate e-mails - one of the few scenes staged by director Evan Tsitsias with any imagination.
The show still feels like a workshop production, with the book needing extra attention. Matas and his co-writers (the program lists four) deliver zingers about Albertan conservatives and village poseurs, but they miss some essential themes. Is Chris's ethnicity an issue? What is Chris's and Adam's relationship based on, besides physical attraction?
Matas shows some skill as a comic actor, but he's got problems with diction and he's underpowered vocally. Too many of the performers shout rather than sing, although the vivid Moens has vocal resources to spare, and she's got a great, bitchy rapport with Aaron Kyte as one of Chris's one-night stands.
There's definitely a commercial market for gay-themed musicals, especially around Pride Week. But homos deserve better than this.