The Break Up Notebook

The Break Up Notebook: The Lesbian Musical
a kate west review
written by Patricia Cotter; music/lyrics by Lori Scarlett
directed by Sue Hamilton
at the Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. 90038
contact (323) 960-5563 or
running Friday and Saturday nights through February 2006 – EXTENDED!

The Hudson Backstage presents “The Break Up Notebook: The Lesbian Musical” which tells us that lesbians have the same relationship frustrations as the rest of us do. Who knew? Patricia Cotter wrote the original crowd-pleasing script of “The Break Up Notebook” back in 2002 (which was also nominated for a GLAAD award) and then turned it into a musical. While the first incarnation definitely had its charm, the new version works even better as a musical.

Helen (Heidi Godt) was just dumped by the love of her life and is slowly picking up the pieces, with the help of her well meaning but interfering friends. She makes all the classic mistakes we all do: she calls her ex, repeatedly hanging up, spies on her, asks all her friends about her, moans “why doesn’t she love me anymore?” and generally drives everybody nuts. To snap her out of her self-indulgence, her weary friends set her up on a series of disastrous dates. She finally meets someone she is excited about, but despite her friends’ warnings, goes way overboard, making her new love her whole world and refusing to see her faults. Thankfully, she achieves enough growth that she realizes she is better off alone than begging for scraps at the pathetic mercy of a selfish someone else.

Throughout this well-toned, well-timed production, Lori Scarlett (composer of the wildly popular “Sneaux!” local musical) accompanies Patricia Cotter’s witty dialogue with equally beguiling music and lyrics. One of the funniest moments in the show comes during one of Heidi’s many tedious dates, when the cast sings “It Takes A Nail”, mimicking embarrassing small talk (“Ex-girlfriend, la la la …”). “The Polynesian Dance” seems a bit overkill, although a sure-fire hit with the audience every time. In general though, the musical numbers are snappy, fun and clever. Director Sue Hamilton contributes greatly to the professional atmosphere, including smooth scene transitions and overall staging.

Heidi Godt as Helen is the perfect self-deprecating but still likeable protagonist and Patrick Bristow, is the perfect gay best friend Bob, playing silly and poignant at the exact right levels. Whitney Allen as Frances, the new love, was not a strong singer on opening night, but the rest of the cast is fine, including friends Monica and Joanie (Melody Butiu and Jacqueline Maloney) who are great fun as the couple about to go through a commitment ceremony. The whole show is delightfully entertaining and the truths are universal for everyone, straight and gay alike. Patricia Cotter could have given us a happy ending, but she doesn’t go for that cliché, giving us an open ended closing, so to speak, yet still managing to fill us with optimism. We applaud the heroine’s new found-confidence and we root for her (and our own) future success.

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