In Play Reviews

Henry Mann (Richie Stone/Isaac Lamb) is a 30-something, sensitive New-Age guy who wants to get married, settle down, and have babies. Unfortunately, his girlfriend of five years, Sheila (Kailey Rhodes), recently dumped him and is marrying someone else. Soon. Henry has been to 12 weddings in the past 12 months, and is expected to attend Sheila’s. Henry is fed up. Desperate, he goes to the internet.

Kailey Rhodes, Isaac Lamb, and Kortney Ballenger in The Evolution of Mann. Fletcher Wold photo.

The Evolution of Mann (book and lyrics by Dan Elish, music and lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen) charts Henry’s hero’s journey from wedding bereft to aisle-worthy. You can enjoy it all now at Broadway Rose Theatre Company.

A struggling Manhattan playwright,  Henry imagines himself as the sincere but not socially connected Jay Gatsby watching across the bay for his former love, the elusive Daisy Buchanan, to turn on the green light and welcome him back into her arms. Alas for Henry, what he gets instead of Sheila, are new challenges, new girlfriends (Kailey Rhodes), and new disappointments. His best friend and roommate Gwen (Kortney Ballenger), recently separated from her wife, offers help and encouragement while dealing with her own heartache. But Mann must grow into his role as a suitable partner on his own.

The Evolution of Mann is based on Dan Elish’s 2005 novel Nine Wives. Cohen and Elish turned the story into a hilarious romantic comedy of errors which had its off-Broadway debut in 2018. The story is fast-moving and witty, the music and lyrics are fun, funny, and energetic, although parental guidance definitely is advised. Isaac Lamb directs the show to a T, and played the role of Henry on opening night. Funny as this musical is, it also shines a light on the difficulties facing single people who are serious about settling down in the digital age.

Kailey Rhodes, Richie Stone, and Kortney Ballenger. Fletcher Wold photo.

A shout out to music director Darcy White; Sean O’Skea, scenic designer; Janelle Sutton, costume designer; Carl Faber, lighting designer; Brian Karl Moen, sound designer; Jeff Duncan, properties designer and production manager; Jessica Junor, stage manager; and Phil McBeth, technical director.

The Evolution of Mann runs through October 16 at the Broadway Rose New Theatre, 12850 SW Grant Ave., Tigard. Tickets are available here.

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