This new musical covers old ground with gusto as a librarian goes from ho-hum to hot.
On the secret sex scales that some men keep in their hearts, the tarted-up librarian is ranked lower than the buxom nurse or the Catholic schoolgirl in a short skirt.
But bibliophiles may be coming up a little in fantasy world, thanks to "Sexy Librarian," which premiered over the weekend in Minneapolis. In the show, actor Anna Sundberg plays the title character. She rips off her frumpy dress to transform from a humdrum book-lover into a hot thing.
Her Jekyll-to-Hyde change is one of the things that work well in this promising, if slow-paced, musical comedy at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage.
The show, which riffs on cultural types and tropes, revolves around a librarian on the frontline of a citizenry that is becoming increasingly dumb and entitled. Patrons seek classic texts that they know only from films, and demand books that have movie pictures on the covers.
One library visitor wants Constance to re-stock the toilet paper in the men's bathroom. And yet another, a bad speller, keeps getting his Internet connection broken because he's typoing things to get into porn sites.
Constance goes from put-upon and bothered by patrons to hot in response to Chad (Mike Rylander), a hunky actor who comes to the library for an audience of one (Constance) to practice his smile on her. He's trying out for a bikini gig that he really wants to win. He snags her heart instead. With her hair down and looking sexy, she visits him at night, seeking writhing thrills without commitments.
This hetero male fantasia with a few twists was composed by Mike Hallenbeck with Joseph Scrimshaw, a crackerjack of all trades. He wrote the book and lyrics for "Sexy Librarian," which he also directed. And he plays drums in the punkish rock trio that includes guitarist and narrating vocalist Adam Whisner and bass player John Riedlinger.
Some of the tunes are catchy, and hummable, even if the score could be improved with better orchestration and a bigger band.
"Sexy Librarian" is a work-in-progress. The pacing suggests a drama, not a fast and funny show. The music and the play exist in different realms. In fact, although it's billed as a rock musical, it feels more like a play with rock musical interludes.
And although "Sexy Librarian" aims to have a raw sound, the show suffers from poor sound design that makes some of it inaudible.
Still, Sundberg gives Constance distinct physical traits and sells us on the transformation. Her singing is passable. Handsome Rylander shows he has more than a killer smile.
And Sam Landman is spot-on as the quirky senior librarian with a crush on Constance as well as afflictions that cause him to keep his hands in his pockets. That trait is a little antic but, like the "Sexy Librarian" itself, shows quirky promise.