I recently saw an off-Broadway play at the Atlantic Theater Company called Found, which I found fresh, original and innovative. It made me laugh … and think.
I went to see it because my friend and fellow Maplewoodian Sandy Rustin is in the cast. Sandy is terrific as one of the ensemble actors and it was a treat to hear her sing.
A mom to two young boys, you may know Sandy as a gal around town. Or you may recognize her as the writer of the musical “Rated P for Parenthood,” which played at SOPAC in 2012 before getting an off-Broadway run. She also wrote a clever straight play called “The Cottage,” which played in Queens last year, and is a founding member of the Midtown Direct Rep, SOPAC’s resident theater company.
Found is a musical and tough to explain, but stay with me. For those of you who cringe when you hear the overture of a razzmatazz show (Annie, Pippen, Chicago) or a dramatic score (Les Miz, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked) this is a musical that will speak to you. (For the record I love most musicals with the exception of Cats.)
Because it’s not traditional lyrics and music. The star of the story is notes written by real people, cleverly pieced together to create a narrative about a 20-something dude searching for purpose and finding it in the powerful and random words of strangers.
Found was created from scores of surprising and eccentric discarded notes and letters that have been “found” in the real world by every-day people. Inspired by actual events, the show follows Davy who, along with his two best friends, is lost and broke. When he finds a strangely revealing note on his windshield meant for someone else, it sparks an outlandish idea that finds him and his compatriots on a wild, comedic journey. This raucous and insightful new musical tells a story of ambition, betrayal and loyalty while celebrating the weirdness in all of us.
It’s a true story about a guy who started collecting random notes he and others found on the street or anywhere public. His collection turned into a career as he started the magazine “Found” to showcase the wacky, tragic, angry, and often hilarious things people say to each other.
The set is covered in reproductions of actual notes found all over the world, sent to Davy for the magazine. When a character is speaking (or sometimes singing) the words of a specific note, it’s projected onto the set to emphasize the message.
You can’t believe the things people say to each other.
We laughed a lot. Like deep belly laughs that extend into giggles. As you may know, people are freakin’ nuts. But seeing their words play out in front of you, weaved into stories with catchy tunes, is a unique theater experience.
I loved it, but don’t just listen to me. The Times gave it a great review and the NY Post called it “the best date-night show of the season.”
It’s playing for a few more weeks, unless it gets a shot at moving to Broadway. I hope it does, as the show– and the words of the people– deserve a larger audience. (Purchase tickets here.)