DECIDE by Stuart Knight. Presented by Knight Flight Productions at 66 Portland (3rd floor). Indefinite run, Saturday 10 pm (doors 9:30 pm). $20 (includes free post-show cocktail). 416-703-9696. Rating: NN Rating: NN
There's something strangely compelling about Decide , motivational guru Stuart Knight 's self-dubbed "urban musical" that - according to the show's marketing - is packing audiences into its 3,000-square-foot loft performance space. (At the performance I attended, there were lots of empty seats.)
As theatre, this thinly veiled self-help seminar isn't much. There's way too much telling. The lighting is terrible. And the songs all sound the same "just do it!" note.
But Knight, whose manic, shark-like grin evokes Tom Cruise in Magnolia, is determined and charismatic. As someone whose raison d'être is to motivate people to realize their dreams, he's practising what he preaches.
From the opening - when a blind albino man in the audience gets up onstage and gives a testimonial - to the several laughably bad rhymes in high-energy musical numbers, the show is like a live infomercial. You watch it with morbid fascination. Do people really need to be told, like children, to reach for the sky and follow their rainbows?
Knight and his fellow performers inject lots of enthusiasm into their numbers, but there's little progression to the show. When Knight tries for emotional depth - when he confesses he was depressed - it comes off as glib and inconsequential.
Despite fresh performances by some of the cast, the only surprising moment comes from a cute video segment involving a girl who advises us to drop friends if they're too negative.
What's ironic about this is that no matter how much criticism anyone heaps on the show, the folks behind Decide will persevere. I only hope they get motivated to check out some more local theatre and see what makes a good play. Self-confidence only takes you so far.