Closer than Ever

Closer Than Ever, 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday; $31-$35. Pollock Stage at Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722; Through February 16.
Rated 4.0

At its best, Closer Than Ever—now on stage at Sacramento Theatre Company’s Pollock Stage—is a collection of musical short stories: character studies, incident reports, memory pieces. At its worst, it’s a selection of entertaining but ordinary New York-centric songs. The fact that several of its pieces were written for (and sometimes stricken from) other shows no doubt contributes to its lack of cohesion.

That said, there are worse things than entertaining, ordinary songs, especially when they are performed by such an engaging and talented foursome as Nick Adorno, Kristen Heitman, Jerry Lee and Andrea St. Clair.

With music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr., Closer Than Ever is a “bookless” musical—all singing, no talking. Set in New York City in 1989, its “characters,” as revealed in song, are young adults of the period, grappling with such topics as insecurity, unrequited love, midlife crises and second marriages. Some express real, recognizable sentiment, while others veer into sentimentality.

Among the highlights: “You Want To Be My Friend?” (sung by Heitman to commitment-phobe Lee), “One of the Good Guys” (performed by Adorno, reflecting on a romantic fling not taken in order to remain faithful to his wife), the wistful “Life Story” (sung by St. Clair) and the sexy “Miss Byrd” (by Heitman). Samuel Clein’s piano and Rod Verette’s upright bass provide the singers with solid support.