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"In My Life"

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In 1977 Joseph Brooks made a splash with his award winning song "You Light Up My Life," a tune which was written for the film of the same name. It was a film which Brooks wrote, directed and produced. Now, Brooks is once again donning multiple hats, this time with a new Broadway musical called "In My Life." How does he fare? NY1 Contributing Critic David Cote of Time Out New York filed this review.

In Joseph Brooks's deeply strange romantic fable “In My Life,” God is a jingle writer. That concept would be disturbing enough on its own, but if you consider that Brooks - who wrote, composed, produced and directed his Broadway debut - once had a lucrative career composing jingles for Volkswagen and Dr. Pepper, the idea also seems creepy.

Delusions of grandeur clearly helped the making of this awkward musical, in which characters fall in love with no chemistry, suffer without arousing pity, and die with no other consequence than relief. Theater fans disgusted by shows made by committee should be careful what they wish for: “In My Life” is the sound of one man flopping.

The bizarre plot takes place on two levels; heaven and earth. On earth, we follow the sudden and unconvincing affair between J.T, a songwriter with tourette's syndrome, and Jenny, a perky newspaper editor. In heaven, the flamboyant angel Winston has been assigned to direct something called "God's Opera."

Winston decides to make J.T. and Jenny the subjects of said opera. Brooks also throws in pirates, the ghosts of dead children, dancing skeletons, and a brain tumor that is supposed to evoke sympathy for our doomed couple.

Excellent sets by Allen Moyer, fine costumes by Catherine Zuber and earnest acting by Christopher J. Hanke, Jessica Boevers - not to mention the shamelessly hammy David Turner - cannot improve Brooks's idiotic dialogue or his score, bloated with generic ballads and soft rock. “In My Life” isn't the worst musical in recent memory — “Brooklyn” and “Good Vibrations” have that honor - but it is the most tedious and unnecessary.

Who, exactly, is supposed to care about the quirky romance between J.T. and Jenny? Are the scenes in heaven supposed to be meaningful? Is the giant lemon that drops down at the end supposed to move us? God, or Joseph Brooks, only knows.

Even considering how tacky and pointless it is, “In My Life” is still not the spectacular turkey it might have been. It comes across as highly expensive amateur theater that only proves how difficult it is to make a good musical.

Finally, no amount of money can turn this lemon into lemonade.

- David Cote
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