Zimmerman's role within the show is played by three actors: Paul Amodeo as Jay, Jason Reiff as Young Jay, and Pierce Gidez as Kid Jay. The action skips backwards and forwards in time as it chronicles Jay's love affair with music, and what happens when he finds out that he is steadily growing deaf. The writer/composer handles the subject with a wry humor, particularly in the numbers "Say the Word" and "Talkin' Dirty." But he also delves into the darker aspects of the situation, most notably at the end of the first act when Jay is at his lowest point.
The music samples from various genres: "Beh-toe-zart" draws from classical composers; "Manhattan Mosquito" is a tango; there are also a few rap-based numbers and an intriguing experimental composition entitled "Music, Speech, or Noise." Too often, however, the songs sound somewhat generic, particularly "New York Jam" and "Building a Life."
Amodeo has a likable quality that endears the audience to the character. Reiff pushes too hard most of the time, while Gidez is a little too stiff. In supporting roles, Amber A. Harris as Diva J shines in the song "Disappearing Act," while Casey Erin Clark captures both the strength and frustration of Jay's wife, Lisa. She also sings one of the best numbers in the score: "I Don't Need a Picture," even if it is oddly placed within the show's narrative -- she's singing to Jay, but he's offstage for most of the song -- just one more flaw that needs to be corrected if the show expects future productions.
-- Dan Bacalzo