Write about what you know. Write about what you’ve experienced. Embellish to make it entertaining and enlightening. Karen Bishko has done just that in her new pop, soft rock inspired musical “Therapy Rocks” and she has supplied the music and lyrics to some ironic, touching and memorable songs. The book has been crafted by Kaethe Fine, Nat Bennett and Karen Bishko. It has been brilliantly directed by Thomas Caruso aided with some fine choreography by Rachel Bress and excellent musical direction by Boko Suzuki.
It’s basically Ms. Bishko’s story. Here she is Leah, played with extraordinary feeling by Rachel Stern who is a major discovery. Ms. Stern is an attractive, smart and wonderfully talented actor. She brings an emotional wallop to her “romantic” character and we really care for her as she searches for “a happy ending” in her complicated life as songwriter and singer and her inability to have a stable relationship with a man. Any man. She seems to attract those that are unattainable or just not right for her and turns to cake for help.
And so her best friend Jess (Dee Roscioli) who is trying her best to get pregnant suggests she seek therapy in the guise of Gabriel (Josh Davis). Reluctant at first to go, she seems to connect with him, slowly beginning to understand why she still unable to stop thinking about Andy – her ex-boyfriend who she broke off with six years ago and has recently married. Beginning to understand what is it that is standing in her way of being happy.
Of course she falls for the married therapist. That’s part of her journey. How it all gets resolved is the joy that “Therapy Rocks” rocks brings to its audience.
Thomas Caruso has staged the show so that it flows seamlessly from location to location with a minimum of props, having the cast move a chair, or a scarf or a guitar that is almost dreamlike. His contribution alone makes the show worth seeing.
Then there are the songs. What a great score. Possibly some songs that could make it from the show and onto the charts. Character driven, atmospheric and rousing every song serves the show’s intentions, leading up to the incredible finale, “Gonna Be”.
Allie Schulz as Beautiful Woman is indeed beautiful. Playing multiple roles she is also a fine actress with a great flair for comedy. Adam Halpin as Everyman is perfect as Andy and the other men in Leah’s life.
All in all “Therapy Rocks” should have a nice life in the future. Karen Bishko has realized her happy ending. At Urban Stages.
Kim Vasquez/Gray Lady Entertainment Executive Producer www.nymf.org
Photo: Lisa Zinni