There’s a reason why Broadway musicals have out-of-town tryouts and weeks of previews before opening to the New York press. Creating a new musical requires the kind of tweaking that only performances in front of live audiences can suggest. Scenes may need to be cut or rewritten, old songs may have to make way for new ones, and cast changes may need to be made. 

The Bedroom Window, a new musical by Daniel Mahler, Nanea Miyata, and Brittany Morrison, opened two weeks ago without the advantage of previews, and this reviewer’s evaluation of the Opening Night performance reflected a promising work in progress, but one in need of considerable tweaking.

I’m happy to report that tonight’s return visit to The Bedroom Window revealed a production so much improved over Opening Night’s that it merits a review update.

“The show could benefit from a 20-25 minute trim,” I wrote in my first review, and while not quite that much has been cut, The Bedroom Window no longer feels overlong, even at about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Scenes flow seamlessly from one to the next like movie dissolves and fast cuts. 


Hearing The Bedroom Window’s songs a second time, I was struck by how “listenable” Miyata’s music is.  (This is a score quite definitely deserving of a cast recording.)  Especially strong are songs like “Grow Up” and “Storm,” musical numbers that have from three to six characters each singing his or her own melody, the multiple tunes melding into one powerful whole.  Not only that, but dialog now segueways almost imperceptibly into song and back again.

My initial review suggested cutting down the parts of Nik and James, and some of that does appear to have been done, including the duo’s reprise duet. Kelsey Scott remains a terrific Nik, and the role of James has wisely been recast, Brett Glazer bringing a dynamic power to the role and vocal chops that make James’ “All For You” no longer seem wasted time.

The Bedroom Window now seems much more focused on Gwen, Porter, Johnny, and Michael, where it should be.

Lead performances, already strong on Opening Night, have become quite stellar in a mere two weeks.



Emily O’Brien is an even more sensational Gwen, making acting choices that are fresh and unexpected, and singing with Broadway-ready pipes! Justin Mortelliti continues to prove himself a dynamic Porter, a self-centered antihero who is sexy as all get-out.  Christopher HIggins’ performance as Johnny now has a freshness about it that makes even an occasional clichéd line sound perfectly natural, and his coming out scene now feels quite unmelodramatic.  Finally, even more so than on Opening Night, Jesse James Rice seems a star about to explode, electric, spontaneous, and bursting with boyish sex appeal.  All four sing even better than ever.

The remaining supporting and ensemble performances have simply gotten better and better, and understudy Aimee Fortier fits in perfectly as Lily.

This reviewer still recommends a title that doesn’t sound like an erotic thriller, and there remains the matter of the character of “Woman.” (I suggest simply excising her from future productions as well as the lines she reads from the manuscript she finds in her attic.) Stick with the story in the present, re-title it, and The Bedroom Window’s talented trio of writers will find themselves with a musical that may actually coax 20/30somethings away from their TV screens and multiplexes and into a real live theater.  And wouldn’t that be something to sing about!

–Steven Stanley
September 2, 2010
George loves Gwen. Porter loves Gwen. Nikole loves Porter. Gwen loves George. Gwen loves Porter.  Michael loves Gwen. Johnny loves Michael.  

If all these mismatched 20somethings seem like kissin’ cousins to the characters on Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and 90210, you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head, though in fact they are the romantic heroes and heroines of The Bedroom Window, the first musical soap opera for the CW demographic and an entertaining one at that.

Though older audiences may find themselves less invested in the romantic and professional dilemmas of its cast of characters than their younger counterparts, and though the show could benefit from a 20-25 minute trim, The Bedroom Window nonetheless proves a showcase for its talented young cast and its talented young creative team.

Under Elissa Weinzimmer’s imaginative direction, The Bedroom Window (book by Daniel Mahler, Nanea Miyata, and Brittany Morrison) introduces us to the offspring of two very different families, the wealthy Davenports and the working-class Davies. 

Gwen Davenport (Emily O’Brien) has recently been awarded a grant to write “the next great American novel,” a fact that her equally well-to-do fiancé George Kensington (Keven Kaddi) finds hard to believe—our first sign that George and Gwen’s love is hardly written in the stars, that and the string of old-lady pearls he gives her for her twenty-fifth birthday. When Gwen’s younger brother’s roommate Michael (Jesse James Rice) presents his best friend and secret crush with a far more appropriate birthday journal, George’s caustic response is “Just what you need. More blank pages.” Strike two for George, though admittedly he may have a point, as Emily is suffering from a bad case of writer’s block.  Meanwhile, Gwen’s kid brother Johnny (Christopher HIggins) has his own unrequited love to hide—for roomie Michael.

Just as the locals on One Tree Hill have TRIC as a hangout, Gwen and her buddies have their own favorite haunt, a bar called The Bedroom Window, where Johnny’s former classmate Nikole/aka Nik (Kelsey Scott) tends bar. By day, The Bedroom Window serves as an artists’ work space, and it’s while exploring its upstairs studio that Gwen’s eye is caught by some striking artwork, paintings she soon learns are the creations of the broodingly handsome Porter Davies (Justin Mortelliti). 

Nik is none too pleased by the interest her boss Porter shows in Gwen—“That girl… I just get this weird feeling from her”—and we soon learn the reason.  Porter is Nik’s secret “vice.”

Porter’s stuffed shirt of an older brother James (Adrian Kaley) soon arrives at The Bedroom Window, teenage sis Lily (Justine Huxley) in tow.  Porter is none too happy to see his older sibling, who “sold his soul for a paycheck” by becoming an MD, though James’s desire for money in the bank is understandable given that he’s been in charge of the family since the age of sixteen, when the three siblings’ parents were killed in a car crash.

An extended business trip takes George out of town, conveniently for Gwen and Porter, who are unable to resist the magnetic attraction each feels for the other. Soon enough though, George is back in town, engagement ring in a small velvet box and ready to be placed on Gwen’s finger should she say yes—though as far as George is concerned, her affirmative response is about as sure a bet as they come.

Will Gwen follow her sense of duty and marry George, or will she follow her heart (and her female libido) and dump him for Porter? Will Michael find the courage to tell Gwen that he sees her as something more than his longtime best friend?  Will Johnny have the guts to admit to himself and to the world that his feelings for Michael are more than platonic?  Will Nik continue to bottle up her love for Porter?  Will James turn out to be less of a prig and George less of jerk?   And who the heck is the middle-aged lady who pops up now and again on the left of the stage and reading from a manuscript?

A lot of questions for a musical to answer in two acts, perhaps too many.  Nonetheless, by the time Michael, Johnny, Nik, and Gwen sing The Bedroom Window’s closing number, “The Start Again,” you may just have found as I did that these characters have crept up on you and become people whose lives and futures you care about.

Miyata (music and lyrics) and Morrison (lyrics) have written a couple dozen songs, a number which I found myself wanting to hear again, which is what every songwriting team hopes for.  I’d cut James’s “All For You” and a lot of the character’s stage time, and much as I liked Scott and her vocals, the same could be said for Nik and “My Vice”—thereby placing the focus more squarely on Gwen, Porter, Johnny, and Michael, where I think it belongs. I’d also be careful about lines like “You make me sick!  I can’t stand even to look at you now!” which we’ve heard umpteen times in umpteen TV shows and movies.  I’d jettison the character “Woman” completely.  Not only is she unnecessary, but she ultimately takes The Bedroom Window into The Twilight Zone, which isn’t really where it belongs. And finally, I’m not convinced that The Bedroom Window’s title represents the musical as aptly as it should.

Still, for this reviewer, The Bedroom Window’s positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Mahler, Miyata, and Morrison have tackled something quite original, at least for a musical, and I can easily see The Bedroom Window becoming a popular choice for college musical theater departments, whose students and audiences match this show’s age demographic to perfection, the show’s themes likely to resonate with 18-23 year olds in particular.

The creative trio and director Weinzimmer have been blessed with a mostly excellent cast, headed by daytime TV star (and two-time Emmy nominee) O’Brien, who brings stellar stage presence, acting chops, and the production’s best vocals to the role of Gwen. You’d be hard pressed to find a sexier, more dynamic Porter than Mortelliti, the award-winning star of The Columbine Project, who proves himself as adept at rock-musical theater as he is at hard-hitting drama. Recent USC Theater grad HIggins makes an impressive professional debut here, combining choir boy looks with considerable dramatic ability and vocal talent.  The excellent Rice radiates charisma in abundance, boy next door sex appeal, and that indefinable something that turns unknowns into stars.   

Scott does such fine work as Nik that this reviewer feels guilty suggesting that the role be reduced, and Kaddi is so convincing as a prick that meeting the actor after the show I found it hard to believe I was talking to the same person.  Huxley is a charmer as Lily, and Debra Kay Lee does her best with what she is given to do as The Woman.  I wish I could say that Kaley’s acting/singing talents were up to the level of his costars.

Providing all-around excellent support as The Bedroom Window’s “Greek Chorus” (as well as swiftly executing numerous choreographed scene changes) are the highly attractive and musically talented quartet of Jesse Einstein, Patrick Gomez, Rachel Lee, and Terra Mackintosh, each of whom covers one of the show’s lead roles.

The Bedroom Window’s terrific backstage band is conducted by keyboardist Kyle de Tarnowsky, with Matt Lemcke (bass), Kelii Miyata (drums), and Alex Wilson (guitar) completing the foursome.  Gary Miyata gets thumbs up for his sound design, though the rock numbers in particular cry out to be miked rather than sung acoustically as they are here.

I liked Haley Keim’s angular, multi-purpose set, Mahler’s costumes, and Krystle Smith’s lighting design, though the latter could be fine tuned to keep light off the audience at certain moments. Christina Covarrubias is stage manager.  

The Bedroom Window is a promising new musical likely to prove attractive and enjoyable to younger (and younger-at-heart) audiences. Gossip Girl fans take note.  There’s more to life than TV soaps. If you’re willing to give live musical theater a try, The Bedroom Window may well be a show for you!

The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles.

–Steven Stanley
August 20, 2010


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