It was inevitable. Social media has made its way into musical theater as a leading character. In Bradley Cole, all the highs and lows of the digital world are in full force as they alter the lives of every character in this cute musical. The musical follows Ian after he adapts a digital alter ego named Bradley Cole and develops a huge following. On his journey, he has to deal with pinning over his roommate, exposing the true nature of a reality star, and life as a whole.
Bradley Cole is your standard modern musical. With some exceptions, Bomi Lee’s score is pretty redundant. It sounds very similar to other composers of late. Way too much sung-through dialogue. What makes Bradley Cole stand out, though, is the book by Jason Young. Take away the music, it could be a standalone script, a rarity in musical theater. Sure, the music makes the story cutesy and bubbly, it was difficult leaving the theater remembering any of the tunes. What makes Bradley Cole special is it’s not a musical that follows the typical leading man or lady. The sidekick gets the spotlight. The wonderfully geeky Remy Germinario as the title character shines in this role. You’re excited when he gets his infamy. Germinario has wonderful timing and spirit. Justin Flexen as Ben, Ian/Bradley’s best friend and roommate, is goofy and loveable, though never in a million years would you ever pick these two to be besties. Though unapologetic, the design team shows off Flexen’s best assets in his Cupcake Boy costume. Jeannine Frumess as Stacey also defies the typical leading lady type, but she doesn’t have as much command as the character calls for. L. Celeste Weathers as Della Rae packs a mean bark as the egodriven tv host.
Geoffrey Goldberg’s staging was occasionally messy, leaving the ensemble on stage for the sake of having voices and cellphones. With the limited Fringe lighting system, those moments took away the focus from the main characters. Nickey Frankel’s Mondrian-inspired panels were colorful but distracting, not adding anything but popping color in the bleak space. Frankel’s color burst in costumes were all that were needed to create the bubbly world.
Bradley Cole is like bubble gum pop music. It’s a guilty pleasure you don’t want anyone to know about. The story is current but will unfortunately soon become a period piece.