The Thing About Men was the second Off-Broadway musical written by composer Jimmy Roberts and lyricist Joe DiPietro, whose first musical, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, had been running continuously for more than seven years when its follow-up opened on August 27, 2003. And that first musical, having exceeded 3,000 performances, was still running when The Thing About Men closed after only 222 performances on February 15, 2004. Why the difference? I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is a musical revue about the mores of contemporary romantic relationships, circa the 1990s, while The Thing About Men is a book musical based on German director Doris Dörrie's 1985 film comedy Men... about a philandering advertising executive who discovers his wife also is being unfaithful and reacts by befriending her lover and becoming his roommate. Thus, DiPietro, who also wrote the libretto, is largely limited to writing about three major characters and following a plot rather than jumping around from vignette to vignette as in I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. And in Tom (Marc Kudisch), Lucy (Leah Hocking), and the lover, Sebastian (Ron Bohmer), he is stuck with three relatively unsympathetic characters at that. His own lack of sympathy for them comes through clearly to the audience (and the listener) as Tom becomes self-critical, Lucy prevaricates between the two men, and Sebastian is made over from a bohemian artist into another ad man. At least Daniel Reichard and Jennifer Simard (from the original cast of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) get to have some fun playing multiple minor characters and trying out different accents. Roberts' music, played by four musicians led by keyboardist Lynne Shankel, is rambling, if melodic, and DiPietro's lyrics are not as clever as they should be (although the Stephen Sondheim-like "You Will Never Get Into This Restaurant" is fun). The Thing About Men has very negative things to say about maturity and relationships, which makes its conclusion (Tom and Lucy reconcile, of course) unconvincing, and seems to have kept audiences from making it a long-running hit like its predecessor.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|The Thing About Men, musical play|