High Fidelity (musical)
|Basis||Novel by Nick Hornby
2008 St. Louis
2010 Washington DC
2011 Fullerton, CA
2011 Clinton, IA
2012 St. Louis, Kansas City
High Fidelity is a musical with a book by David Lindsay-Abaire, lyrics by Amanda Green, and music by Tom Kitt. Based primarily on the Nick Hornby novel rather than the subsequent film version it inspired, the plot focuses on Rob Gordon, a Brooklyn record shop owner in his thirties obsessed with making top five lists for everything, always observing rather than participating in life. When his girlfriend Laura leaves him, he goes through a painful re-evaluation of his life and lost loves (with a little help from his music) and he slowly learns that he has to grow up and let go of his self-centered view of the world before he can find real happiness.
Kitt recognized the material's potential for musical adaptation when he first read the book, long before the film was released and became a cult hit. He approached Green (daughter of famed lyricist Adolph), with whom he had attended the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, with the idea, and she too saw the possibilities. Their score runs the gamut from pop music to rhythm and blues to romantic ballads, with each song in the style and musical vocabulary of a different pop or rock artist, including Bruce Springsteen, Beastie Boys, Indigo Girls, Talking Heads, Aretha Franklin, The Who, Guns N' Roses, Billy Joel, George Harrison, Percy Sledge, and others. However, all of the songs in the play were original composition, and none of the music by the classic artists spoken about by the characters is actually heard in the play -- although (in a fantasy sequence) "Bruce Springsteen" shows up to advise the lead character of Rob on how to be like The Boss.
The show had a month long out-of-town tryout at Boston's Colonial Theatre before heading to Broadway in New York City. Reviews were mixed, though Amanda Green's lyrics drew particular praise. Associated Press' Michael Kuchwara wrote that "High Fidelity's charms are considerable and don't be surprised if you fall under its spell", while the review in Entertainment Weekly claimed that "High Fidelity is the unique show that charms both your drinking buddy and your mother." On the other side of the coin, the New York Times' Ben Brantley labelled High Fidelity as one of Broadway's "all-time most forgettable musicals". Clive Barnes of the New York Post was mostly dismissive of the show, but did write that Green's "razzle-dazzle lyrics have a style and grace that zing in the ear."
After eighteen previews, the Walter Bobbie-directed production opened on December 7, 2006 at the Imperial Theatre, where it closed after fourteen performances. The opening night cast included Will Chase, Jenn Colella, Christian Anderson, Kirsten Wyatt, Rachel Stern, J.B. Wing and Jay Klaitz. The play's commercial failure was generally attributed to the mixed reviews and a lack of previously recorded classic rock songs in the production. Classic rock had been a prominent feature in the film adaptation of Hornby's novel, and audiences may have been expecting a jukebox musical rather than an all-original work.[original research?]
The show was first produced regionally in 2008 by New Line Theatre in St. Louis, MO, followed by productions in Chicago, Washington DC, and other US cities. The Canadian premiere was produced by Hart House Theatre in January 2010.
An original cast album was recorded on January 13, 2007, three weeks after the show closed. The album omitted several songs, including "Terrible Things", "Exit Sign", Ian's Prayer", "Saturday Night Girl" and the reprise version of "The Last Real Record Store". Included, however, was "Too Tired", a song cut from the show during rehearsals.