'Found': EW review | EW.com


'Found': EW review

FOUND Nick Blaemire, Andrew Call, Danny Pudi, Daniel Everidge, and Orville Mendoza

FOUND Nick Blaemire, Andrew Call, Danny Pudi, Daniel Everidge, and Orville Mendoza (Kevin Thomas Garcia)


Serendipity and missed connections are the stuff of many a musical comedy, and they’re put to clever use in the fact-based chamber musical Found, playing at Off Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company through Nov. 9. A decade ago, Chicago native Davy Rothbart began collecting discarded letters, lists, posters, mash notes, break-up letters, etc., and started publishing them in a zine that led to a popular live-reading tour and NPR gigs.

It’s too bad that the show’s conceit isn’t matched by the plot, a twentysomething love triangle wrapped up in a meta-narrative about the creation of Rothbart’s Found Magazine brand. The book is by Hunter Bell, co-creator of another meta-musical, title of show, and Lee Overtree, a co-founder of Story Pirates who also directs the production. What we get is an overlong, utterly predictable story about Davy (Godspell’s Nick Blaemire) founding his zine, launching a reading tour with his partner in crime and unrequited love (Heathers’ Barrett Wilbert Weed), and then heading to L.A. with a pretty aspiring TV producer (Betsy Morgan) to see if he can transform Found into a slightly higher-brow version of America’s Funniest Home Videos. (Spoiler alert: He can’t.)

Found documents wallpaper the walls of David Korins’ set at ATC’s Linda Gross Theater, while others are projected there (by Darrel Maloney) to provide both authenticity and read-along supertitles for the dialogue and lyrics. Scenes are punctuated by the addition of this ephemera—recited by the hard-working cast of 10, which includes Community star Danny Pudi. The effect is often witty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, but the device also robs the story and characters of the element of surprise: When the subtext is projected onto the stage, after all, it just becomes text.

Eli Bolin’s score has a similar tossed-off quality, with pleasant but mostly forgettable pop tunes whose lyrical line must follow the rhythms of each found document. One stand-out is Weed’s sweetly sung second-act ballad ”Barf Bag Breakup.” This is a modest show whose admirably modest ambitions can be undercut by the two act, 2 hour and 15 minute running time. In fact, Found’s underlying message seems to be: Chase your dreams, but don’t dream too big. C+

(Tickets: atlantictheater.org)