For Scott Sinclair's production, the Calderwood's Deane Hall has been configured as a combination cabaret and theater, with the show set up like an intimate concert, its three casually costumed performers deployed on a small stage with headsets and their instruments. Lighting is flashy; visual effects are of the computer-generated variety. The plot centers on Grumpy Guy (keyboardist and musical director José Delgado), who decides to bag New Year's Eve despite the admonitions of a party-throwing friend (drummer Zachary Hardy) and stay home "in my stocking feet with an ice-cold beer." There he is visited by a salesperson of full-spectrum holiday lights intended to combat seasonal affective disorder (electric-violinist Erikka Walsh). This brings to mind Hans Christian Andersen's bleak fairy tale "The Little Match Girl," which Grumpy Guy just happens to have at hand. Enraged by his re-reading of the story, in which prosperous celebrants hustle toward their warm hearths while its heroine goes to her cold reward, he vows to turn over a new leaf.
GrooveLily's Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn collaborated on Striking 12 with Rachel Sheinkin, who won a Tony for the book of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. So you can expect some cleverness, especially on "Screwed Up People," a funky ditty explaining that Andersen was not the best-adjusted human being in 19th-century Denmark. Less anticipated but welcome is a Gilbert-and-Sullivan-worthy recitative by the lightbulb saleswoman in support of her product. And the electric violin gives the score a Celtic-tinged, otherworldly feel that sometimes lifts it out of the generic. But the material is so slight that the performers have to push it. Despite their efforts and the presence of all those matches, Striking 12 does not catch fire.
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