The Evolution of Mann

Leslie Hiatt, Max Crumm and Allie Trimm sing about the trials and tribulations of relationships in The Evolution of Mann. Original photo by Carol Rosegg.

By Andrew Andrews

When it comes to romantic attraction, what’s your type?

It’s often said that straight men are attracted to women who remind them of dear ol’ mom.

That certainly seems the case for Henry Mann (Max Crumm). His ex-girlfriend, Sheila (Allie Trimm) looks like a younger, uptown version of his mother (Allie Trimm). His new heartthrob, Tamar (Allie Trimm), looks like a younger, downtown version of his mother. And—if you overlook the unibrow—even the girl he’d settle for, Christine (Allie Trimm), could be the spittin’ image of mommy dearest.

In Douglas J. Cohen and Dan Elish’s new musical, The Evolution of Mann, we get to follow Henry through a progression of relationships that never turn out quite the way he expects—and Henry expects a lot from his relationships before they even begin!

With the help of his best friend and roommate Gwen (Leslie Hiatt)—who was recently given a six-month time out after cheating on her wife—Henry tries to find a replacement soul mate for the woman who’d rejected his wedding proposal a year ago, only to feel an even greater urgency when he receives an invitation to her wedding to a never-seen Google exec.

Accompanied by timely projections (Nathan Scheuer) setting the scene on an artfully minimalist, runway-style set (Libby Stadstad), Henry, Gwen and his love interests take us on a ninety-minute, humorously musical journey. Anyone who’s ever been on the rebound surely can relate.

Even if you were to take their fun, quirky delivery of songs like The Year of the Weddings, The Tale of the Otter and It’s Only a First Date out of the equation, the cast would deserve a round of applause for their stamina alone: Crumm barely leaves the stage for more than a moment, Hiatt plays a multitude of incidental characters when she’s not in the role of Gwen, and Trimm takes the cake for maintaining her impeccable vocals despite constant, split-second costume changes, alternating between love interests so frequently that one of the transitions must happen (and does so gracefully) before our very eyes.

With a live band (Tomoya Aomori, Darren Lucas and Vadim Feichtner) as relentless as the cast, director Joe Barros ensures there’s never a dull moment in this “real hard” comedic love story, complete with perfect costumes (Siena Zoë Allen) and a dynamic, contemporary acrylic chandelier (Chris Steckel) that you can barely pull your eyes from.

If you like a good musical, or a fun romantic comedy, this is one production worth checking out—and unlike the early stages of Christine’s relationships, there’s no need for you to “keep my expectations low.”

So treat yourself to The Evolution of Mann, then come back and tell us how much you enjoyed it.

Whether you think he’s a loser or a mensch, your reviews can help others decide whether to give Henry Mann a chance... and your ratings help us help you find future musical rom-coms (and other live events) you’re sure to love!

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Andrew Andrews attended The Evolution of Mann at Nancy Manocherian's The Cell in New York on Saturday, October 6, 2018 @ 8:00pm to write this review.

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