REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Lockout – A Musical

Book, Music & Lyrics by Ben Fortamericn theatre company

&  Jason Gallagher

Directed by Joe Giovannetti

Produced by Six Hours Short

At American Theatre Company (ATC)

Basketball spoof falls flat in overly-long and over produced musical

Two recent graduates from the Second City’s Writing program, Ben Fort and Jason Gallagher, themselves rabid NBA fans, have penned a new pop-rock musical based on events from the 2011 NBA lockout. It sure is s stretch to attempt a two hour and 40 minute, sixteen song musical based on such a narrow niche.  Unless your quite knowledgeable about things from the National Basketball  Association and you know who LeBaron James, you’ll be wondering what all the fuss is about.  To use a Sondheim term, The Lockout doesn’t “sing,” it simply isn’t musical material. Presented as a satirical spoof of the foibles of professional basketball players, team owners, the league commissioner and the network announcers, The Lockout might work better as a comedy?

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Since it is a 16 song musical, with a bland forgettable score and the mostly unintelligible lyrics (due poor sound and mumbled singing), the burden to carry the show lies with the book. Unintentionally, the book is a silly, cliche-ridden affair filled with a bromance by a wacky owner and a goofy player. Add a dominant general manager who mysteriously dictates to her owner boss with a Hilter-like league commissioner and you have the ingredients of a  preposterous show.

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The musical plays out as a series of sketches with over-blown incomprehensible production numbers sung badly in that irritating Broadway pop-rock style to a collection of the worse choreography danced by a cast that can neither sing, act or dance.  The labor dispute at the heart of the piece is trivialized to the point that both the players and the owners come off as idiots being traumatized by a directorial commissioner.

Fort and Gallagher simply tried to do too much here. Their structure and characters were sophomoric; their lyrics lame; and their music blandly redundant. With a razor-thin premise, smart, witty quips with a catchy, tunefully score are badly needed. Those can hardly be found here. The poor vocals with slurred articulation rendered many of the   lyrics unintelligible. Lastly, at 2 hours and 40 minutes, The Lockout plays about 30 minutes too long. This show needs to be rethought as to its stage worthiness. As it now plays, it is not worth seeing.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: August 23, 2013

At American Theatre Company (ATC), 1909 W. Byron, Chicago, IL, tickets $25,  Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 5:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 40 minutes with intermission, through September 15, 2013

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