It’s very obvious sitting through the 160 plus minutes of Lost: The Musical—We Have To Go Back that writers Steven Brandon and Steven Christopher Parker are really big fans of the TV series Lost which is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. It’s clearly apparent they are bigger fans than they are writers or editors. Each act of their play covers three seasons of the densely plotted, heavily populated TV show, making for a long evening. You really need to be a fan and have seen nearly every episode to truly enjoy this show. I admit to being both and still got lost in the plot at times. Newcomers are sure to be lost even though the writers have put just about every significant character and event on stage, either in scenes or in songs that serve more as plot exposition than musical interludes. There are some clever touches, like having the characters comment on the other actors’ lives and careers before and after they were on Lost. Walt is played by a puppet and Vincent is played by a man in a dog suit. But the writers might have done better fleshing out the first act and ending with the cliffhanger of Jack saying “We have to go back.” Then they could have created a sequel detailing the mind boggling events of the final three seasons. As it is, the show feels both rushed and too long at the same time.
I’m not sure exactly what musical director Dereau K. Farrar contributed to the show. The writers have written new lyrics to familiar songs and they are sung to karaoke tracks. For example “Bye Bye Oceanic 815” is sung to “Miss American Pie” and “Cork of Destiny” to Wicked’s “Defying Gravity.” But the lyrics are often too dense and sung so fast they leave the cast breathless. The cast doesn’t contain any strong voices and the tracks are usually not in the key of the singer. It’s a non-union cast of 16 and there should have been at least one or two good singers in the cast since this is billed as a musical. Brandon’s direction for the most part just has the cast standing in a line across the stage saying dialogue. The disjointed action is staged like a series of vaudeville blackouts. The cleverest and funniest moment is probably “When Sawyer Stole the Guns!” staged similarly to “We Both Reached for the Gun” from Broadway’s Chicago. Most of the cast play multiple roles adding a wig or an accent when needed. After all the series was on six years and there were flashbacks, flashforwards, flashsideways not to mention the Freighter Bunch. The cast was competent, energetic and gung ho but there were no standouts.
On opening night, the flight crew of Oceanic flight 815 distributed free beverages and snacks before takeoff, which was delayed until precisely 8:15. In the opening night audience was actor Sam Anderson, but his Tailie character of Bernie never got a mention in the plot. One of the very few omissions I’m sure.
The Lillian Theatre, 1076 N. Lillian Way in Hollywood. Ends Oct. 26. 323-960-1055 or www.plays411.com/lost