One woman sings jazz (Robin Joyce), another sings pop/rock (Jeanine Tolve), and the third waltzes between musical theater and operetta (Jean Acosta). No wonder they call their act Nothing in Common.
Something akin to a Kellogg's Variety Pack, this group offers its audience at Don't Tell Mama a trio of genuinely different musical experiences. Each of them has something valid to offer but the show gets off on the wrong six feet right from the start. Their attempt at choreography in their first number is clumsy and distracting; worse, the song they've chosen to begin the show--"Three Friends" (Maltby/Shire)--only serves to confuse the audience because the lyric includes names that are not their own. We're sitting there in the dark trying to put names to each of the women's faces, and they keep us in the dark by obfuscating their identities. After this less-than-thrilling opener, each singer takes a solo section of the show. These sections are separated by more painful group numbers. By the time the women get to their last song together, they finally get it right with an amusing and well-sung rendition of "Stuck on You" (Gallagher/Waldrop). Maybe this is an example of practice making perfect. (Musical direction for Nothing in Common is by Matthew Ward.)
The middle-of-the-road jazz of Robin Joyce comes first among the solo acts. She doesn't do anything particularly wrong; by the same token, she doesn't do anything memorable. For example, she proves her mettle in the tongue-twisting comedy number "No Bout Adoubt It" (Curtis/Mizzy) but fails to "sell" the song. Something is missing in this number and throughout her five-song set: attitude. Pop/rocker Jeanine Tolve is up next, and her belt is so strong that it simply will not buckle. Here is a powerhouse singer with more timbre in her voice than you'll find in a national forest. Tolve is capable of thrilling an audience and she does so twice, with the comedy number "I Wanna Talk About Me" (Bobby Braddock) and the soulful ballad "One More Time" (Richard Marx), but she is otherwise tripped up by a combination of mediocre song selections and overacting. She's a very expressive singer who would be more effective if she were subtler.
Usually the best is left for last, but it didn't seem that way during Jean Acosta's first few numbers, particularly when she under-sang and overacted "Stars and the Moon" (Jason Robert Brown). But Acosta did turn out to be worth the wait when she winningly performed "He Was Too Good To Me" (Rodgers/Hart), and she scored a home run with her comic operatic rendition of "Glitter and be Gay" (Bernstein/Wilbur).
To be fair, we saw the first performance of Nothing in Common, and group acts like this sometimes take a while to jell. Don't Tell Mama has a club atmosphere that is conducive to experimenting and growing; it's exciting to attend shows here and at other venues where performers challenge themselves, because you just might be there when they triumph. You can see if you have something in common with Nothing in Common at any of their remaining shows during this run: January 12 at 8pm, January 30 at 7pm, and February 1 at 7pm.