Tinderella is a clever pop/rock swipe at cell phone dating

The ensemble belts out “Like Me” in the opening number of Tinderella: The Modern Musical playing at the Custom Made Theatre.

TINDERELLA: The Modern Musical. Book by Rose Oser; Lyrics by Weston Scott; Music by Christian B. Schmidt, Directed by Ken Savage; Music Direction by Joel Chapman. Custom Made Theatre Co. and FaultLine Theater @ Custom Made Theatre, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA. (415) 798-2682, www.custommade.org. April 26 – May 26, 2018.

Tinderella is a clever pop/rock swipe at cell phone dating. Rating: ★★★★☆

Internet technology, cell phone use and on line dating are the mainstays of recent musical theatre and two are at 533 Sutter Street. Downstairs in the tiny Shelton Theater Megabytes! The Musical is a Morris Bobrow hilarious bare bones revue with only four actors and no plot. Upstairs at the Custom Made Theatre Tinderella is on the boards. It is a fully staged “book musical” with 10 rainbow cast actors playing 15 roles with some doubling in the ensemble backed by a five piece orchestra. The musical was conceived and created by Faultline Theater over a three year period and is handsomely mounted on Custom Made’s larger stage.

Even though the title “Tinderella” is meant to bring to mind the fairy tale “Cinderella” it also is a word that can be found in modern dictionaries. It is derived from the IPhone dating app Tinder that hit the internet with gusto in 2013. The term Tinderella refers to a female user looking for potential romantic connection.

The Tinderella of this musical is Meg (Juliana Lustenader) an insecure young lady raised in Marin who cannot get a “like” with her on line contacts. As luck would have it she has allowed her unemployed friend Dylan (Branden Noel Thomas) to share her flat. Although he is appropriately dressed atrociously and is marvelously impudent he has all the qualities to become her fairy god-person as well as being a guru in the art of on-line dating.

Branden Noel Thomas as Dylan and Juliana Lustenader as Meg singing “Magic, More or Less” in Tinderella, The Modern Musical.

Meg has a sister, Allie (Adielyn Mendoza), and step-sister Tanya (Alex Akin), who have become widely known for their social media postings singing “Picture Perfect” yet both are insecure. Tanya prides herself for having worked in the Peace Corp and Allie is a shopaholic. They are cleverly dovetailed late into the plot when they bemoan “Reality.” But we are getting ahead of the story.

The ensemble belts out the opening number hoping that someone will “Like Me” and poor Meg has not garnered a single “like.” Dylan takes center stage as the ultimate worker of miracles as he espouses “Magic, More or Less.” About this time a Prince Charming turns up as Marcus (matinee idol Jackson Thea) who hopes to have a relationship with sexy Julie (Sarah Jiang) who has her own agenda.

Meg’s profile created by Dylan gains Meg a lot of unwanted attention including a series of genital photos that earns a raunchy satirical production number “Old School Chivalry” that almost convulses the audience but not pure lily white naïve Meg. Finally she hooks up with “The One” who just happens to be the dumped Marcus who invites her to a party in Oakland.  She is schooled in the rules of conduct and informed in the closing act one number “(You’re Gonna) F…ing Rock it.”

Dylan has dressed Meg in a very, very short sexy dress (Fantastic costumes by Alexis Lucio) and provided her with “the shoes” she is not supposed to lose. Those shoes are silver opened toed with three inch stiletto heels. Finally Dylan reminds her that the last BART train from Oakland leaves at Midnight. Sound familiar? Raunch again is inserted into the evening with “Super Cool Party” and “Slow Grind Love Song” that requires taking off your shoes. Bad idea! You will have to go to the show to see what happens to those shoes.

In the supporting roles James Seifert and Kimberly Cohan earn accolades; he for the handsome Kyle Henderson, Stalker Steve and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (don’t ask), she as the much put upon waitress.

Tinderella: The Modern Musical is an excellent vehicle for the demographics of Custom Made and Faultline audiences. I suspect it will not have legs to earn diverse appeal. However it has admirable score and lyrics that add class to Rose Oser’s book. It is smartly directed by Ken Savage using every inch of the fine unit set. Running time is two hours and 15 minutes with an intermission.

CAST: Meg, Juliana Lustenader; Dylan, Branden Noel Thomas; Julie, Sarah Jiang; Marcus, Jackson Thea; Allie, Adielyn Mendoza; Tanya, Alex Akin; DJ Countdown, Andrew Chung; Ashley, Kimberley Cohan; Kyle Henderson, Stalker Steve/ Ruth Bader Ginsburg, James Seifert; Tinder Nightmare, Ryan Wakamiya.

CREATIVE CAST: Director,            Ken Savage; Music Director,  Joel Chapman; Associate Music Director, Matt Grandy; Choreographer, Meredith Joelle Charlson; Scenic Designer, Randy Wong-Westbrooke; Costume Designer, Alexis Lucio; Sound Designer, Evan Wardell; Lighting Designer, Maxx Kurzunski; Properties Designer, Stephanie Dittbern; Stage Manager, Lucianne Colon; Key Art Designer, Ashley Siebels. 

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.