"Neurosis: The Musical" has a much broader appeal than most musicals. We can't all relate to singing in the rain, or being cats. But we all know what it's like to have a mind, and to argue with it at every single moment of our lives.
"Neurosis" cleverly externalizes that inner back-and-forth by making its main characters' minds into characters themselves. For Frank (Danny Gardner), it's a companion named, perhaps not so cleverly, Neurosis (Joseph Medeiros). For Abby (Patricia Noonan), it's Neurosalina (Alexandrea Tocco). So when Frank and Abby begin flirting with each other, it's not just a meeting of the minds. It's an all-out melee of self-deprecation, misguided advice and nervous muttering. And it's really funny.
Each of the four principles shines through this psychic rom-com. Gardner's physical gags are great, especially as he rotates atop a bar stool in a futile attempt to look inviting to the ladies. Medeiros is there at the perfect moment, every time, to fluster or fluff Frank's ego, and pop off some slick moves of his own. Noonan sings powerfully on "Make Him Mine," and in the same song riotously confesses her plan to marry a Jewish boy because of all the personality perks it'd bring. And Tocco is a saucy delight as Abby's neurosis, quipping about her mental mate's looks and abilities with terrific deadpan timing.
"Neurosis" also scores high in the setting department. From the bar where Frank and Abby stumble through their first flirtations to the offices of psychiatrist Samantha (a terrific Julie Cardia), the Downtown Merry-Go-Round stage is busier than ever with moving parts and rotating wall pieces.
What really makes all this impressive is the fact that "Neurosis" is a world-premiere musical. A promotion from last summer's The Pitch, the Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival's series of new works, Allan Rice, Ben Green and Greg Edwards' show feels polished beyond its years, whether it's the rapid-fire laughs of Frank's first therapy session or the acutely obnoxious glee of "Boyfriend/Girlfriend."
But the show still isn't immune to some signs of its very young age. When Frank and Abby hook up while their neuroses drunkenly flop about, the sequence feels somewhat rushed, especially because it's one of the few actual events in the show. Later, "The Meet-the-Parents Tango," which adds Frank's parents (Bob Frame and Joanne Baum) to the mix of type As and teeth-gritters, suffers the same fate after several hilarious minutes of escalating tension between Abby and Frank's mother.
That could all change, though. More than most musicals, "Neurosis" could undergo night-to-night tweaks as its first live audience laughs reinforce what works and what doesn't. Being part of that process — and realizing that no, you're not the only one in a love/hate relationship with yourself — is a uniquely exciting prospect of seeing "Neurosis: The Musical."