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Now. Hear. This.


Music and Lyrics by Jeff Bowen: Book by Hunter Bell and Susan Blackwell: Based on a collaboration by Hunter Bell, Michael Berresse, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen, and Larry Pressgrove.

The show runs 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission.

Vineyard Theatre, Off-Broadway - 28 March - 28th April, 2012 (season - 36 perfs)


NOW. HERE. THIS. marked  the return to The Vineyard of the ultra-talented team behind the Obie Award-winning musical [title of show] which premiered at The Vineyard in 2006, and went on to an acclaimed, Tony-nominated Broadway run in 2008.

The six original collaborators are all delving into life's big questions with inimitable humor and humanity. The show explores birds, bees, reptiles, early man, ancient civilizations and outer space. Also, loneliness, friendship, hoarding, hiding, laughing, living and dying. And middle school. And dinosaurs.


Thomas Merton, a poet and Catholic philosopher, developed a strong appreciation for Zen near the end of his short life. He told a friend about his key to happiness: the phrase "Now, Here, This." Not a command to "listen to this," but three distinct words as reminders:

That philosophy comes across as a musical group-therapy session, moving from angst-ridden memories and quirky stories about personal insecurities towards a new-ageish acceptance of the choices made, experiencing and embracing the present. It's certainly cheaper than group therapy, and probably funnier.

The four characters essentially play themselves searching out this meaning-of-life thing. They are friends reflecting on their individual histories.

nht-acMaybe it's because we know these four people - not personally, but we feel we have met them in. They have the personalities and quirky sense of humor of the real Jeff, Hunter, Heidi and Susan. They are meant to be any of the millions of slightly off-kilter creative types, the kind of people who have busy minds, fragments of ideas floating all the time, imagining what-ifs. There are a lot of us out here

A theme in the show - and in life - is the desire for STUFF. A belief that getting that thing you desire will unlock the key to happiness. In the all-too-true number "Members Only." the title refers both to exclusive clubs AND a popular 1980s jacket brand. It acknowledges the teenage rite of passage of finding the RIGHT clothing to get accepted by the popular people. It's amusing while being painfully real.

"Then Comes You" is a sweet song of friendship, and the truism that when you accept yourself, it's easier for others to accept you as well.

As soon as the songs begin drifting into the land of the new-age spiritual retreat, the quartet bring us back into an odd story of a group sea excursion, sung in the style of an old Irish sailing ballad, with Jeff and Susan getting seasick mid-song. There's a wee moral to the tale of the "Wilbert S. Pound" -- when life upends you, sulking and   being miserable makes it worse, but finding SOMETHING to appreciate makes the time sail by. Pollyanna? Perhaps. That's where these songs come up short. Listening to the songs feels like a weekend retreat where the group leaves refreshed in its  purpose and commitment, before the reality of life crushes in.

As Heidi sings the sweet "This Time," which suggests a person sets her own rules, chooses her own path, it sounds like such an easy thing to do that the sentiment dissolves into fluff.

This is a musical, not an answer to the meaning of life. It is meant to make you leave the theatre wanting more.

Musical Numbers

  1. What Are the Odds?
  2. More Life
  3. Dazzle Camouflage
  4. Give Me Your Attention
  5. Archer
  6. I Rarely Schedule Nothing / Cacophony
  7. Members Only
  8. That'll Never Be Me
  9. Kick Me
  10. Then Comes You
  11. The Amazing Adventures of the "Doc" Wilbert S. Pound
  12. That Makes Me Hot
  13. Golden Palace
  14. Get Into It
  15. This Time
  16. Finale: Now. Here. This.