Sir Windsorbach Productions emerged onto the San Francisco Bay Area theater scene this February with Made in China, writer/composer/star Nicholas Weinbach's quirky musical romantic comedy about a deadpan, old-fashioned, naive young man who meets the girl of his dreams through quasi-supernatural means. Now it unveils the follow-up, A Match Made in Hell, which is also a quirky musical romantic comedy in which a deadpan, old-fashioned, naive young man meets the girl of his dreams through quasi-supernatural means. This one, however, is written and composed by Nicholas' twin brother Max Weinbach, who also stars. In fact, Hell predates China, and a one-act version of the show a few years ago is what inspired Nicholas to write his musical, according to a blog entry about the creative process.
In addition to writing, composing and producing A Match Made in Hell, Max Weinbach stars as Mark, an earnest and awkward "tiny man in a tiny suit" who wants to meet a nice girl, but is too shy to talk to anyone he's attracted to. Lucy has a similar problem; although she's beautiful and gets hit on a lot, it's always by jerks, because the nice guys are either taken or too timid to talk to her. How can these two young romantics connect? Well, that's where the Devil comes in. Suddenly concerned about his reputation, the Devil wants people to know that he's not such a bad guy, and he decides that maybe it would help if he did something nice for somebody for once. Getting Mark and Lucy together becomes his pet project.
Nicholas Weinbach and the ensemble.
Max Weinbach's Mark has a sort of somber, introverted charm. With a ponytail wig and a goatee, Nicholas Weinbach is pricelessly melodramatic (in a good way) as the Devil, too broodingly self-involved to notice that his faithful, nameless Minion (a glum, soft-spoken Aaron Vanderbeek) is hopelessly in love with him. Alison Kawa is cute, confident and charismatic as Lucy and would be perfectly cast in the role if this show were not a musical, but she has a lot of trouble making herself heard and staying on key.
Played by a solid 10-piece orchestra conducted by Daniel Alley, Max Weinbach's songs mix pleasant, almost Tin Pan Alley-style melodies with busy, convoluted orchestrations and vocal parts that overlap in hard-to-follow ways. Ultimately there are too darned many of them and they start to feel like filler, especially in the second act. It's two hours and 40 minutes, a respectable length for a musical, but doesn't have enough substance to be that long.