Is there anything more played out than reality TV? And yet it won’t go away. Its longevity is rivaled only by its inanity. So a parody of reality television seems superfluous. Nevertheless, reality TV is getting the send-up treatment at the Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, which is hosting the world-premiere musical comedy Nobody Loves You.
Drawing from “The Real World,” “Survivor” and any number of reality dating shows, Nobody Loves You posits after much song, dance and wisecracks that the only love that matters is the real thing. What’s manufactured for voyeuristic cameras and equally voyeuristic TV viewers is all phony baloney. The title of this musical’s fictitious reality show is “Nobody Loves You.” The cynicism mirrors that of our hero, Jeff (Adam Kantor), who becomes a contestant on a program he despises just to make a point with his ex-girlfriend. Of course, he falls for someone else – not one of the other contestants, but Jenny (Jenni Barber), an assistant producer type. They meet cute and end up that way.
Itamar Moses’ story is full of fun and behind-the-scenes frolic, though it’s obvious from early in the going that two of the other contestants, Christian and Megan, are far more interesting than Jeff and Jenni. Christian (Kelsey Kurz) is an aptly named holy roller, and Megan (Lauren Molina) has a body made for sin. Their contradictions are no match for their chemistry – the hot-tub seduction song “Come On In” is just one of their hilarious moments together. Another peripheral character, Jenny’s gay roommate Evan (Alex Brightman), is Nobody Loves You’s funniest and most outrageous (albeit most overdrawn) character. He even outdoes the antics of Heath Calvert as the reality show’s posturing host Byron. Evan’s hysterical “The Twitter Song” is worth tweeting about.
Gaby Alter’s music and lyrics are glib and for the most part not too mushy (“Jeff’s Convessional” notwithstanding). There’s no question that Nobody Loves You is a likable, if fluffy, night in the theater. The whole “reality” metaphor may be labored, but love conquers all, and in the end isn’t that what matters?
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.