Complete with intrigue, silliness and a richly melodic score, Adrift in Macao is not your mother’s film noir. Describing the style of this musical parody, librettist Christopher Durang states, “Film noir makes people think of evil femme fatales like Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, and brings to mind violence and gangsters. Adrift in Macao doesn’t focus on the crime aspects of films noirs, but more on the ambience – the smoky nightclubs, the alluring women, and the mysterious men with shady pasts.”
Critics embraced Adrift in Macao when it bowed on the New York stage, and the show received two Drama Desk nominations, including "Outstanding Music". The New York Times wrote, “Melnick’s music hops effectively among genres, evoking period music from Kurt Weill to big band,” while John Simon hailed “This musical takeoff on film noir is as light as a helium balloon…the music manages to be delightful pastiche and the frequently funny book is peppered with puns and the lyrics are always hilarious.” American Theater Web remarked “Durang’s work as a lyricist is consistently on target. Sometimes silly, sometimes witty, his words fit into Melnick’s terrific songs with ease,” and TalkinBroadway.com observed “Melnick demonstrates an affinity for melody and old-fashioned showmanship that link him to his grandfather Richard Rodgers” while praising the show’s “unusually well-composed” songs.
The premiere recording of the Adrift in Macao score perfectly captures the show’s spirit and energy. Produced by Melnick and Grammy and Oscar winner Joel Moss, this score will repay many repeat listenings, and at least one of the songs is destined to become an audition-room standard. For anyone who loves musical theater, this is one album not to miss.
February 13, 2007
A Primary Stages presentation in association with Ina Meibach, Susan Dietz, Jennifer Manocherian and Barbara Manocherian
Book and lyrics by Christopher Durang
Music by Peter Melnick.
Directed by Sheryl Kaller.
Music direction, Fred Lassen
Choreography, Christopher Gattelli.
Orchestrations, Michael Starobin
Sets, Thomas Lynch
Costumes, Willa Kim
Lighting: Jeff Croiter
Sound, Peter Fitzgerald; music coordinator
Production stage manager, Emily N. Wells
Rick Shaw - Will Swenson
Tempura - Orville Mendoza
Corinna - Michele Ragusa
Mitch - Alan Campbell
Lureena - Rachel De Benedet
With: Jonathan Rayson, Elisa Van Duyne.
Accolades and Reviews:
Nominee for Drama Desk Award for "Best Music".
"...With a drop-dead funny book and shamefully silly lyrics by Christopher Durang and lethally catchy music by Peter Melnick. Adrift in Macao lovingly parodies the Hollywood film noir classics of the 1940's and 50's..." - BroadwayWorld.com
"The only downside of this excellent cast album of Adrift in Macao, Christopher Durang’s silly send-up of Far East film noir, is a tinge of regret - major if you missed the absurdly brief (three-week) premiere off-Broadway last year, and only minor if it serves to stir up fond memories. This little gem of a musical is already overdue for a revival... (A) bright joy emanates from this playful endeavor, and the CD offers a handy way to revive the spark.”
— Sandy MacDownald – Edge
“Adrift in Macao, the uproarious new pocket-sized musical Primary Stages has planted into 59E59 Theatres. With a drop-dead funny book and shamefully silly lyrics by Christopher Durang and lethally catchy music by Peter Melnick, Adrift in Macao lovingly parodies the Hollywood film noir classics of the 1940’s and 50’s that featured hardened dames, shady gentlemen and really dim lighting. Melnick's music mixes dark film scoring with peppy showtune. The exceedingly hummable title song is only topped by a final number that gleefully pounds its memorable tune into our heads.”
— Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld.com
“Melnick, a grandson of Richard Rodgers (he's Adam Guettel's cousin), has contributed some very catchy melodies to the score, including the title tune and the climactic number and sing-along, "Ticky Ticky Tock," which may take several days to be dislodged from your brain.”
— Frank Scheck, New York Post
"Adrift in Macao is so delicious, written by Durang and his well-matched composer, Peter Melnick. As movie cliches go, it's hard to top show's opening number, "In a Foreign City," in which a glamorous dame named Lureena (Rachel De Benedet, channeling Rita Hayworth) finds herself stranded on the dock with no luggage and no dough -- nothing but the slinky purple gown on her back -- and instantly lands a job as a singer at Rick's place. More cliches fly thick and fast, the absurdity of them smartly captured by Melnick's bright, nontaxing compositions and Durang's drolly inane lyrics.”
— Marilyn Stasio, Variety
"And there are of course those songs, unusually well-composed for any show that could get by with far less. in the smoke-and fog-steeped "In a Foreign City" to a dueling duet for Lureena and Corinna in "Pretty Moon Over Macao" and "Mambo Malaysian," Melnick demonstrates an affinity for melody and old-fashioned showmanship that link him to his grandfather, Richard Rodgers, more readily than his acclaimed cousin, Adam Guettel. The title song ends as an energetic toe-tapper, while the trench coat-strewn "The Chase" perfectly particularizes the genre, and de Benedet's "So Long" is a belty torch song so on-the-spot smoldering it practically transcends parody to become the real thing. Finally, there's the finale. I can't remember the last time a song in a parody show lodged itself so completely in my brain, but the nightclubby "Ticky Ticky Tock," which spans several thousand miles and takes in the whole cast (and even the audience in its sing-along closing), is so maddeningly addictive it will apparently require major surgery to forget; I've been humming it for days, and it's shown no signs of releasing me from its grip.”
— Matthew Murray, Talkin' Broadway.com
“Comic playwright Christopher Durang turns to musicals with Adrift in Macao, a spoof of '40s film noir in exotic locations (think trench coats, slinky dresses, nightclubs called Rick's, and men and women with shady pasts). He is abetted by composer Peter Melnick, who has come up with a score that borrows equally from The Threeprenny Opera, swing, film scores of the period, and cocktail jazz. And they are supported by a game and talented cast of seven who switch roles, accents, and keys as required. Particularly effective is Orville Mendoza as the mysterious Tempura, who spends much of the show seeming to be Asian, but then late in the evening proclaims, "I'm Actually Irish" in a song that might have been written for Woody Allen's Zelig. This is a show with its tongue firmly in its cheek, even to the point of breaking the fourth wall and letting the audience in on the joke. Thus, Will Swenson, in the role of Rick Shaw, who otherwise would not have a song of his own, tells us that he went out and bought one in his showcase number, "Rick's Song." He also says he's planning to sue the authors of the show. Of course, all works out well, as the cast members shoot at each other and miss during "The Chase," ending up in New York where they lead the audience in a sing-along. Adrift in Macao is deliberately slight, but consistently amusing, and it sounds like audiences must have had a lot of fun when it ran at the Off-Broadway Primary Stages theater company in 2007.”
— William Ruhlmann - Allmusic.com
“Melnick's music and Durang's lyrics combine in ditties that recall the jazzy/witty numbers from City of Angels. But while Cy Coleman and David Zippel (also working in noir territory) crafted dark-edged, syncopated songs in minor chords for Angels, Melnick and Durang's songs are bright and "majorly" catchy.”
— Lauren Snyder, Offoffonline.com
“Durang's work as lyricist is consistently on target. Sometimes silly, sometimes witty, his words fit into Melnick's terrific songs (a series of period-sounding tunes with a contemporary edge) with ease. Audiences may find that it's difficult, in fact, to shake the show's final tune from their ears, and that's as it should be.”
— Andy Propst, American Theatre Web
For information on how to produce Adrift in Macao for your theater, please contact Samuel French, Inc.