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Catch 'High Fidelity' Adaptation In Storefront Decked Out Like A Record Store

By Melody Udell in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 2, 2016 7:12PM

Refuge Theatre Project's production of 'High Fidelity.' Photo by Laura Leigh Smith.

High Fidelity has seen many iterations in pop culture, first as a novel released in 1995 by British author Nick Hornby. Then, in 2000, came the movie, which starred John Cusack and gained a quirky cult following. And since producers have become keen on churning out musical adaptations of beloved movies, a Broadway version followed, although it closed a mere ten days after opening in 2006.

But now, the stage show is carving out a more comfortable niche in the form of smaller regional productions. And you know what? It works.

This latest incarnation is put on by Refuge Theatre Project, and the venue is—smartly so—a small storefront built out to resemble an actual record store. Not only does the staging fit the theme—since, if you didn’t already know, High Fidelity is about a record-store owner with commitment issues—but it also provides a more intimate, charming look and feel for the production as a whole. That charm comes in handy for Rob (a winning Max DeTogne), the man-child lead character whose smile and goofiness seem to be his only likeable qualities. You see, Rob has just cheated on his girlfriend of four years, Laura (Liz Chidester), and when she leaves, he can’t quite figure out why this breakup is affecting him so much more than all of the others. After all, Laura doesn’t even make it on his top-five list of bad breakups. It’s only when he takes stock of his former relationships that he realizes he truly misses Laura and needs to change a few things before he can win her back.

Rob seeks advice from his two music-obsessed employees: A sweet yet dorky Dick (Stephen Garrett) and the brash, wisecracking Barry (Nick Druzbanski). The two provide comic relief, of course, but also shed a bit more insight into the show’s larger narrative on troubled love. (They both have more endearing romantic arcs than Rob and Laura.) The rest of the supporting cast—usually playing the offbeat patrons at the record store—come in as backup for the musical numbers. While composer Tom Kitts’ songs—which run the gamut from Heart-esque rock ballads to hip-hop numbers a la the Beastie Boys—are serviceable, Amanda Green deservers considerable praise for her sharp, zesty lyrics. (Yes, zesty.)

High Fidelity—full of wit and whimsy—probably won’t make it on anyone’s list of top-five musicals, but the show is a bit like your favorite mix tape: Comfortable, nostalgic and undeniably entertaining.

The show runs through Sunday, Feb. 28, 666 W. Hubbard St., 773-231-7691 or online.