"And another hundred people just got off of the train." That's from "Another Hundred People," the Stephen Sondheim tune from Company. It's my favorite song about my favorite city, and, clearly, the creators of In Transit like it, too. This theme of the subway connecting all New Yorkers, and the sheer number of people who are in transit at any one time, and the lives they live, is the focus of this original a cappella musical.
What, at first, seems like a series of sketches (for the first several minutes, I thought this was going to be a themed revue), turns into a full musical, with story arcs and characters for whom we root. There's the gay couple, Trent (Justin Guarini, Women on the Verge...) and Steven (Telly Leung, Godspell), who are engaged but fearful of telling Trent's southern, conservative mother that he and Steven are more than just roommates; there's Nate (James Snyder, If/Then), the ex-investment banker who's trying to get back on his feet (he was fired after accidentally hitting "Reply All," and shooting off an incendiary email to the whole company—every nine to fiver's worst nightmare); and then there's Jane (Margo Seibert, Rocky), a 33-year old actress who's yet to get a break and is wondering if this is where she's supposed to be.
And that's the point of the show, which is directed by Tony winner Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes). The subway takes us from one place to another, and we make stops along the way. Us New Yorkers are always in transit, a work in progress, not there yet. The trick is to, without losing sight of where you're going, be here where you are. (Very now. here. this. Other musical allusions abound, including nods to "Move On" and "Part of it All.")
What's so incredible, of course, is what these actors are doing with just their voices. I hesitate to say there are no instruments because the voice is an instrument, but there is no musical accompaniment. Chesney Snow, Boxman, is a drum, making all sorts of percussive tones and rhythms with his voice. (The role is dual cast, with Steven "Heaven" Cantor playing the other Boxman.) He provides the backbone, and the ensemble's voices color the songs. (Deke Sharon's a cappella arrangements are astounding.
Written by Academy Award winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez ("Let It Go"), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan, and Sara Wordsworth (based on a concept by the writers and Gregory T. Chirstopher and Karla Lant), In Transit tells a mostly simple and somewhat predictable story, but the New York insider jokes and incredible vocal prowess make it an enjoyable ride. Also of note is the scenic design by Tony winner Donyale Werle (Peter and the Starcatcher). She has subway seats doubling at lots of other things (parts of an office, a bedroom, a bar), as the subway is so many things to you, me, and another hundred people.
In addition to the above-mentioned cast members, the ensemble includes David Abeles; Moya Angela; Erin Mackey; Gerianne Perez; Mariand Torres; and Nicholas Ward. Music supervision is by Rick Hip-Flores. Costume design is by Tony winner Clint Ramos; lighting design is by Donald Holder; sound design is by Ken Travis; projection design is by Caite Hevner; and hair and wig design is by Cookie Jordan.