EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of two Triangle Arts & Entertainment reviews of Nerds. To read the Jan. 22nd Triangle Review review by Jesse R. Gephart, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2013/01/north-carolina-theatres-jan-18-feb-3-pre-broadway-tryout-of-nerds-has-a-lot-of-growing-up-to-do/.
North Carolina Theatre’s original musical “NERDS” mixes fact and (a whole lot of) fiction to tell the story of famous rivals and semi-friends, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. The show follows them from the mid-1970s, when the geeky guys spent their time designing homemade computers for the Homebrew Computer Club, all the way on up to the present day of lawsuits and iPhones.
The first act focuses on establishing Bill and Steve as real people, giving them heart and character beyond the public personas so easily recognized today. Stanley Bahorek’s Bill Gates is a “nerd” in the truest sense of the word, from his too-big glasses to his trouble with the ladies. Darren Ritchie’s Steve Jobs is a smoother computer-geek with a hippie side. Both characters are largely shown as parts of duos, Bill paired with basketball-star-wannabe Paul Allen (Rob Morrison), and Steve with “Woz,” a chubby, vintage t-shirt wearing goofball, endearingly portrayed by Benny Elledge. And, of course, there’s the lovely Diana DeGarmo, cute-as-a-button in her role as hot-geek Sally. Metal-mouthed Myrtle (Leslie Kritzer), also adds to the fun with her hopeless crush on Bill, who largely ignores her.
During the play’s first half, silly jokes abound, including every sexual play-on-words of Jobs’ last name possible. The songs are catchy and original for the most part, and the act goes fairly smoothly, with only a few jokes—like Bill Gates and Paul Allen nonsensically dancing around chanting “Nerd Action” for seconds on end—falling flat. There are also many inside jokes that may not work with less –knowledgeable viewers, but they don’t hinder the action.
In the second act, however, things get a little too silly for their own good—imagine an Italian clown running around crazily, Woz trying to “reboot” Steve Jobs as one would reboot a computer, and cronies injecting people with a virus that turns them into Microsoft-devotees. While the play manages to end on a strong, funny note with the cast members’ obvious love for the material shining through, the second act ultimately makes it seem as though writer Erik Weiner wasn’t quite sure how to wrap things up. Indeed, it’s an arduous task to tell a story of 30+ years in such a short span of time. While not perfect, NERDS is definitely worth watching and, with a little honing, could easily meet its goal of being the next Broadway smash-hit.
The North Carolina Theatre presents NERDS at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22-25, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29-Feb. 1, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 and 3 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $64.20-$80.10 (including fees), except $25 (cash only) Student Rush Tickets.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115202/1761293.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 5204, or http://nctheatre.com/theatre/group_sales.html.
VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJNKVPQ71o4&feature=player_embedded.
PRESENTER: http://nctheatre.com/. BLOG: http://nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
VENUE: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/venue/fletcher-opera-theater. DIRECTIONS: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/directions.
NOTE: Arts Access (http://www.artsaccessinc.org/) of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2nd, performance.
Nerds: http://www.nerdsmusical.com/ (official website).
Hal Goldberg: http://www.theofficialhalgoldbergwebsite.com/ (official website).
Jordan Allen-Dutton: http://www.jordanallendutton.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_Allen-Dutton (Wikipedia).
Erik Weiner: http://www.erikweiner.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Weiner (Wikipedia).
Diana DeGarmo: http://www.dianadegarmo.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_DeGarmo (Wikipedia).