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Fringe Fest 2013 Reviews: "ROOMS: A Rock Romance" 

The closest I've ever come to writing a theater review is Alice Cooper's show at the Auditorium Theatre a few years back. I'm not exactly a Broadway guy -- on- or Off-. But I've got to admit I loved the production of "ROOMS: A Rock Romance," playing at RAPA's East End Theatre as part of the Rochester Fringe Festival.

The show tells the story of two musicians, the perky and driven Monica P. Miller, who wants nothing more than the big time (she's played by Sammi Cohen), and the drunken and often aloof Ian Wallace, who wants nothing more than to stay in his room (he's played by Richard Scooter Rosenthal, who I think should drop the Richard and stick to Scooter). The story plays out with the push and pull of their disparate definitions of success, and the stubborn denial of their inevitable love.

Set in the late 1970's in Scotland and New York City, the show is full of music, its quirky lyrics keeping a steady pace other shows lose when they get bogged down in -- or stall for time with -- dialogue. Interesting characters, other than the two principles on stage, are painted by the two main actors. So, for instance, Cohen's Monica gives life to a girl coming out at her bat mitzvah, and a mother who loves golf.

The storyline in "Rooms" offers the same frustration as "The Commitments," especially for musicians who have come close only to have their dreams dashed by bad decisions fueled by hubris and pride. The music was ably handled by a live band off to the side and the stage. The set was essentially bare, with minimal props so as not to clutter the imagination. The singing was emotional and dramatic but not at all overwrought. The dip into punk rock -- visually and musically -- was a bit topical and hokey. But other than that, it is a beautiful show.

So I leave you with a quote from Monica: "I'm going to leave now, with a flourish."

"ROOMS: A Rock Romance" has one final show, on Saturday, September 28, 8:30 p.m. at RAPA's East End Theatre. Tickets cost $12.


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