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Hearts Are Wild Press & Reviews

Hearts Are Wild

""Hearts Are Wild is the contemporary rock musical at its best. The musical numbers are powerful and lingering and the lyrics are tight and witty. 4 out of 5 stars."
The Pitt News, Feb. 2006

"...A good helping of melody creating character and advancing can get all the lyrics, and it's a real boon, because Griggs' lyrics are often a witty plus."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Feb. 2006

"...Griggs' tunes offer a good rock listen...Griggs' Ray Davies influence is evident, but there is a good variety of rock styles, including ballads and rap. The title song, sung as finale, is a great rock song...A lot of fun to be had and good rock tunes."
Talkin' Broadway Regional Theatre Reviews, Feb. 2006

"...the music in the show is fun. Griggs' lyrics...hilarious and clever. The music fits the retro rock 'n' roll feel of the makes your toes tap."
The Carnegie Pulse, Feb. 2006

King of Hearts Hails From Memphis

The Pitt News
By Patricia McNeill, Senior Staff Writer
Issue Date: 2/14/06 Section: A&E

Hearts Are Wild - Through Feb. 19
Starring: Billy Hartung, Julie Dingman Evans, Ben Evans
Directed by Tracy Brigden
City Theatre: 412.431.CITY

Many think that oracles went out of style with the Greek gods at Delphi and the likes of Oedipus. City Theatre's world-premiere musical, "Hearts Are Wild," lays such erroneous conceptions to rest by informing the masses that we had one here in the United States, in Memphis, Tenn., not 60 years ago.

The Oracle, my friends, was Elvis and the temple was rock 'n' roll.

When Steve was just a baby, his parents took him to the King (Billy Hartung) to see what bright future awaited him. Instead, in true oracle fashion and with the trademark curled lip, they received a cryptic message: "Your son will follow the music in his head, and he will die at the end of the road."

Lights up on the present. Steve (Ben Evans) thrashes about under his Elvis bedspread, waking from what he thinks is a dream and not the latent memory of his proclaimed destiny. What seems to be left over from the dream is the rock 'n' roll band (Craig "Izzy" Arlet, Tom Earley, Brian Stahurski) that had accompanied Elvis and his prophetic declaration. Unfortunately for Steve, and much to the chagrin of his wife Sharon (Julie Dingman Evans), only he can see and hear it.

As he gets ready for work, Steve goes into an easy and almost melancholic number called "Ordinary Life," in which he, along with his wife and dad (Billy Hartung), sing of the stability he has achieved in suburbia with his new lawn mower and even a snow blower.

But as the song continues it morphs into a confession of Steve's inner desires and becomes an anthem for anyone who has ever wanted to break out of the average life he leads. With passion and a quick tempo, Steve gutturally cries out that he wants to go to Tahiti, get a tattoo and "find a girl with no diploma to give him head until he's in a coma."

It seems his wild streak is about to find some encouragement in the form of his new co-worker, Brianna (Katie Allen). Dressed in colorful and revealing clothing, she is the opposite of Steve's grounded and conservative wife and ready to break all the rules. She seems to bring out his inner bad boy as he shows up to work one day with mussed hair and a Hawaiian shirt. Brianna is, of course, dressed to match in a plastic grass skirt and coconuts. As for the problem of the wedding ring on his finger, she sings a seductive number that proclaims "I'm Cool With That."

When Steve goes to get a haircut at Paranormal Hair and Nails he learns from his hairdresser/psychic (Billy Hartung) that his dream is actually a vision and that "the wild one will save you, the safe one will kill you."

More sure than ever that Brianna is the wild one for him, Steve continues on his musical journey of self-exploration in which he gets in touch with his inner Elvis ("The Elvis in Me") has a hilarious "battle" with a Skater Dude (Billy Hartung) in a coffee shop ("I'm a Real Man") and tries desperately to figure out which road he will die on.

"Hearts Are Wild," by George Griggs and Darrah Cloud, is the contemporary rock musical at its best. The musical numbers are powerful and lingering and the lyrics are tight and witty. The vocal talent brings the entire show together with the four-person cast hitting every mark.

Ben Evans seems to have been made for the role as he easily transitions from geeky pocket protector to sexy pelvic thrust with a voice that rivals the King himself at moments. Julie Dingman Evans, whom Evans is married to on and off the stage, gives an amazing vocal performance in "Only Everything" where she plaintively sings of the love she has for her husband. Her sympathetic portrayal of the seemingly suffocating wife makes it difficult to decide with whom Steve will ultimately be happier.

Kate Allen, a Point Park senior, is vivacious and seductive as the vixen Brianna. Each of her numbers pops with energy, particularly her opening number, "The Place Where I Belong," where she is beside herself with joy as she enters into what surely must be her rightful position in life: an office assistant.

Billy Hartung, by far the most comedic of them all, impressively plays no fewer than six characters, including The Oracle, a punk, Steve's dad and the hairdresser. Hartung does a fantastic job of sharply defining each role. His Elvis impersonation is entertaining, with a voice that makes you melt and a white jumpsuit that hurts your eyes.

"Hearts Are Wild" is a night of rock that will draw praise from even the most reluctant musical theatergoer. In fact, it's sure to make your heart beat a little faster.

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