'[title of show]' explores universal issues through its show within a show theme

Doing a musical about a musical can be a risky undertaking for a theater group.

There's always the possibility the audience will be alienated if the material requires too much insider knowledge. And, on the surface, "[title of show]" seems like the kind of musical that might fall into that risky realm.

Director Tobie Romzek knows this but insists you don't need to be a theater insider to relate to the underlying themes of "[title of show]": friendship and passion.

"Ultimately, the story line is just about four friends who have dreams," says Romzek, who debuts the show at Onyx Theatre on Friday. "When it's all said and done, the story is about friendship and following our passions. It's about being who we are as individuals and not letting other people take that away from us."

The musical, with music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and book by Hunter Bell, is about two guys writing a show about two guys writing a show.

It's based on the writers' real-life experience, Romzek says. The writers, Bowen and Bell, enlisted the help of two female friends to write a show for a theater festival. With only three weeks to come up with something, they decided to write about their writing process. They named "[title of show]" after the space on the festival application form where participants were supposed to write the name of the show.

In "[title of show]," Jeff and Hunter get friends Heidi and Susan to help them finish the musical. The four characters are all struggling artists in New York who ultimately put aside their daily responsibilities to focus on creating something.

"They're working on a way to stop being cater waiters," Romzek says, referring to a job aspiring actors often hold. "It's very funny with real characters that people can relate to. The overall message is that it doesn't matter what your drive is, as long as you have really good friends working with you, you can achieve it."

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review journal.com or 702-380-4564.