The 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival has officially come to a close but not before Broadway Black got to give one of the shows a visit. I had the privilege of attending a performance of Held Momentarily and what a hoot it was.
I was fresh off the heels of a cookout that started way too late, before catching the C train from Brooklyn to rush to the PTC Performance Space in Midtown. I don’t know if it was coincidence, but my train was also “held momentarily.” That frustration led to me finding Held Momentarily absolutely timely and downright hilarious. I got to my seat just in time, as the announcement to turn off cellphones had just been made and the piano started to play the first song. Then the cast of six all came out for their opening number. What grabbed my attention though was the clump of fabric on one of the chairs on the stage. All the characters were minding their business singing about their destinations and as they took their seats (which were rusted red and orange just like the A train!) the MTA announcer could be heard saying the phrase New Yorkers know all too well: “We’re being held momentarily.”
Cue music, chaos, and a completely hilarious number about the MTA being agonizingly slow and ruining the characters’ days. I want to download the song because I feel the exact same way when the train isn’t running and I have somewhere to be. It was then that the clump of fabric is revealed to actually be a person! Asherah, played by The Voice finalist India Carney, is the homeless woman on the train who adds her two cents into the song by singing the various phrases you hear from the MTA announcer while on the train. “If you see something, say something” is the one that sticks out the most, as it turns into a full-on completely serious ballad by the end that allows Carney to show off those pipes of hers. After she ended the note the audience applauded for a long while. Vocally, Carney was one of the strongest in the cast, but her character was also equal parts Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Into The Woods’ The Witch in the situation, adding a vulnerability to a character that could have been used strictly for comedic moments.
Another treat to watch was Jordan Barrow, whose comedic timing was nothing short of perfect. Aside from his rather hilarious duet “We’re In Love” — about being in terrible relationships — with Yael Rizowy, he did most of his best work by simply reacting to the scenes around him. His physical comedy and facial expressions were enough to keep me in stitches, so by the time he opened his mouth I was holding my stomach from laughing so hard.
Oliver Houser wrote the book, music & lyrics and I couldn’t help but think the music mimicked that of Stephen Sondheim. When you thought a note was going up, it was going down. The style of music and the clever lyrics fit the erratic setting of a subway car with six frantic strangers and a homeless person. By the end, I found myself in a much better mood. Laughter is good for the soul. And on my way back to Brooklyn we were not held momentarily.