Darkness. Floods. Extreme heat and cold. By now, we’d have wagered that the folks at ReVision Theatre Company had experienced every Biblical plague short of the Rain of Frogs, in their quest to make Asbury Park’s Carousel House a viable place for musical entertainments. But imagine our surprise, when on a post-Irene stroll to the boardwalk we found the pavement out front of that quirky rococo roundhouse festooned with — not frogs, but fish.
We’re no ichthyologist — although we play one on TV — but we’d venture a guess that these finny fauna, their razor-tooth carcasses picked clean by scavenging seabirds, were very far from home (ditto the Costco-size bottle of Cocoa Butter, seemingly deposited here from somewhere east of 1971).
That fish-out-of-water imagery actually works pretty well when contemplating the third and latest offering of the ReVision summer season at the Carousel — the East Coast premiere of The Breakup Notebook: The Lesbian Musical. A relatively little known (but highly acclaimed) item about a recently dumped thirtysomething — and her uneasy re-immersion into the churning waters of the LA lesbian dating scene — the 2005 show by Lori Scarlett, David Manning and Patricia Cotter (adapted from Cotter’s own nonmusical play of the same name) lands with a Don Martin SPLADAP sound effect on the doorstep of the Carousel from far-off California, bringing with it a Tony-lauded, Hollywood-legendary producer and director in the bargain.
A top executive of The Walt Disney Company for more than a decade (his own documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty is a fine chronicle of the Disney brand’s toon revival during his tenure as president of Feature Animation) and a world champion bridge player, Peter Schneider also oversaw the wildly successful House of Mouse transition to Broadway player, via such stage sensations as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Post-Disney, the independent theatrical producer has been involved with New York and London hits like Sister Act and the Elton John-Tim Rice Aida — as well as a little show called The Breakup Notebook, for which he oversaw a well-received staging in San Diego.
So let’s review: the man who helped broker the game-changing deal between Disney and Pixar; who shepherded such latterday classics as Beauty, The Little Mermaid and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to the screen; who was present at the creation of the modern Broadway era…is very happy to be working in Asbury Park, taking a spin on the ever-quirky Carousel with the intrepid ReVisionaries of the city’s resident professional troupe.
He won’t be going it alone, of course. Beth Malone stars here as Helen, recently pink-slipped from what she thought was a cozy and committed relationship — who, with the encouragement of her gay guyfriend Bob and her butch buds Joanie and Monica, dives into an alien world of internet dating services, rebounders, twelve-steppers, dominatrixes and other 21st century signifiers. She’s joined in the nine-woman, one-man cast by Briana Davis, Jenn Furman, Melissa Hammans, Christine Lakin, Ariel Tyler Page, Caitlin Lee Reid, Jamison Stern, Natalie Wachen, and Nadine Zahr — most of whom appear in multiple roles.
While we would have loved to talk cartoons and Hollywood and big-time Broadway (and maybe even bridge) with this modern master of art and entertainment — personally, we think both Disney’s screen and stage brands have gone to the dogs since his departure — upperWETside played it strictly by the Notebook in our conversation with Peter Schneider. Flip the pixelated page to continue.