Orlando Fringe 2023 review: ‘Vanité’

This precocious Gen Z musical is clearly a passion project for its creators

Eddie (composer-lyricist Kidanny Gonzalez) is an underachieving aspiring actor turned law student; his dudebro roomie Wade (director-playwright John Aquino) is a wannabe desperate to audition for Rocky: The Musical, even though his singing voice makes Stallone sound like a songbird. Tugging Eddie in the opposite direction is Stella (Kay Gonzalez), his performatively woke non-binary theyfriend with a taste for cage-free chickpeas.

After sabotaging Eddie’s bar exam, Wade somehow wheedles him into writing an original show together for the titular Vanité theater festival, which eventually forces him to finally get off the pot and pick a path in life. 

Vanité is clearly a passion project for its creators, and hopefully they’ve had fun putting it together. Unfortunately, little about this precocious Gen Z musical resonated with me.

The play’s putative protagonist spends nearly the entire show being pushed around by other characters, never even getting his own “I want song” until the finale, which turns out to be the show’s catchiest tune. While there’s also a hummable acoustic ballad near the beginning, despite explicitly invoking the name of Lin-Manuel, much of the score is a dated-sounding pastiche of Kander & Ebb and Lopez & Lopez. There are some bursts of fun verbal and physical comedy, but the pacing is marred by sloppy cue pickups and unmotivated movement.

Most fatally, it appears obvious that neither character has the chops to succeed as a professional entertainer, no matter how enthusiastic they are, making the plot’s Hobson’s choice between art and commerce far less challenging than the authors intended. Take it from a pro, Eddie: Lose Wade’s phone number and go back to law school. You’ll thank me later. 

Location Details

Lowndes Shakespeare Center

812 E. Rollins St., Orlando Mills 50

407-447-1700

orlandoshakes.org

Vanité
Act 3 / Scene 3 / Line 92 Productions

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