by Joe Regan Jr.
The Engaygement, a new autobiographical musical with music, lyrics, and book by David Auxier-Loyola, is being presented at the Metropolitan Room several times. I caught the second sold out performance on August 19 and learned that Auxier-Loyola composed it about four weeks ago and the great cast learned it, including very intricate lyrics, with four hours rehearsal. The music and the lyrics are brilliant with great rhymes, very Gilbert & Sullivan in nature. The show is very timely after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage (although New York State had already ruled favorably on it). The show’s very talented music director/arranger is Mark York and the director is Duncan Pflaster, both with many musical production and cabaret credits.
The show concerns a love story between two men, both with damaged past histories. Auxier is 44 and his partner in the show is almost thirty. They meet in a piano bar (obviously The Duplex, from another geographical location mentioned in one song). The new love is played by handsome Seph Stanek and age and commitment have a lot to do with the problems in their relationship. The ensemble, all very talented, is composed of Colleen Harris, Jason Whitfield, Elliott Mattox, and Chris-Lan Sanchez and they open the show with a great song entitled “Just Another Night,” describing their adventures cruising in a gay bar. Many New York bars are name-dropped and described. After confessing their past disastrous relationships (Seph with “Single and Loving It” and David with “Like A Perfect Love Song” which he directs in the bar to Seph), they go home to David’s apartment and sing a beautiful love song to each other entitled “Oh What A Night.” As their love affair continues, each has doubts and that aspect is explored in a conflicted song, that recurs, entitled “Seriously.”
Elliott has a startling solo about a gay bashing on the corner of Christopher and Gay Street where he and Jason are beaten up by rough guys who mock them. More songs describe David and Seph’s problems but Colleen has a shop stopping number, “Realistic Me,” in which she describes how more comfortable she is with gay men in gay bars, because of all the lies straight men tell her when they connect. When David and Seph finally come to terms and realize they are more miserable apart than together, they reprise “Oh What A Night” and sing together “Here We Are (You and Me,)” and Jason leads them in their vows.
The musical takes place over several years but there is always growth in the plot which is very timely. Yes, it admits, straight people also have difficulties in their long term relationships but the musical deals with contemporary gay men and women facing new legal and emotional commitment problems. The show was greeted warmly by the sold out house of both men and woman.
The Engaygement will be repeated at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22 Street, on September 9 at 9:30 pm. Given the popularity of the first two shows reservations are strongly recommended. www.metropolitanroom.com or call 212 205-440. David Auxier’s website is www.DavidAuxier.com