The title song that opens the appealing new musical F#@cking Up Everything, now at the 45th Street Theatre, has a raucous chorus that makes you think this is going to be a real indie rock musical. But then the song turns into a litany of the many ways to use the f-word, suddenly sounding less like rock and more like a musical theater patter song -- albeit one firmly grounded in the gleefully foul-mouthed South Park era.
And if you think that Jake (Neil Haskell), the grungy, good-looking guy singing that song is going to be our main character, think again. Our hero is actually his best friend, a super-smart, nice Jewish puppeteer named Christian (Noah Weisberg). As in many shows before this one, the dorky guy ends up falling for a super-hot girl -- in this case, aspiring songwriter Juliana (the excellent Kate Rockwell) -- and they go through a series of flirtations and misunderstandings before arriving at the unsurprising conclusion.
David Eric Davis and Sam Forman's show may follow many musical theater conventions, but it does pretty accurately nail the nuances of New York City twenty-something culture. The show takes jabs at Williamsburg hipsters like Jake, as well as anti-hipster intellectuals who dress in geek chic, depicting these people with warmth and wit. The characters are ably played by a fine cast, including Leif Huckman as the sweet but confused (and usually stoned) bass player Tony.
Davis' songs are hit or miss. "Guys Like Me," in which Christian tries to learn to be more like babe-magnet Jake, is catchy, and Juliana's love song "Falling" is pretty. But "Arielle's Areolas" is a one-joke pony, and the cougar number "Little Boys" is uninspired. (Although kudos to Liz Larsen for singing the heck out of it!)
Although it looks like Davis and Forman are still trying to decide what kind of musical they want F#@cking Up Everything to be, it still might be the ultimate tribute to the generation of young Brooklynites that it depicts -- a group that may just be content to have its showtunes, rock 'n' roll, raunchiness, and love stories all wrapped up in one package.