Creative License: A Terrific New Musical Comedy (4.5 Stars)

Creative License: A New Musical. Book and Lyrics by Kevin Cirone, Music by Kevin Cirone and Spencer Elliot. Additional Music by Dan Rodriguez. Directed by Kevin Cirone.  Music Directed by Dan Rodriguez. Choreography by Rachel Bertone. Performing at the Davis Square Theater, Somerville, 255 Elm Street, Somerville through August 2.

Creative License, an original musical playing at the Davis Square Theater, is probably one of the best things I’ve seen in Boston since Catbox Cabaret left town 16 or 17 years ago. It captures perfectly, and often hilariously, the tortured twenty somethings’ artistic dreams and hot affections. Casey (Michael Levesque) is a would-be writer working in the family bar run by his brother, Jason (Ross Brown). He is in a sexual relationship with his co-worker, Lilian (played by Ashley Levesque, the actor’s real-life wife) but brooding over his inability to create anything worthwhile. Casey’s ex, Bethany (Sarah Leary) is having a hard time letting go of her feelings for him, despite the fact that they’ve been broken up for a year and she’s in a new relationship. Bethany also has a job working at UMass Boston for Casey’s former professor, Dr. Hardy (Kevin Groppe) who is having troubles of his own. When Casey learns that the bar is facing foreclosure, he comes up with a plan to save it, but the person who can help him most – Bethany – isn’t speaking to him. Hilarity and drama ensue.

Despite a few plot holes, the engaging cast manages to sell the show completely. Not only are they all wonderful singers, but actors as well. As Casey, Michael Levesque has a very natural, unaffected manner as well as a wry delivery. Ashley Levesque, as Lilian, not only plays her part to hysterical perfection, but has a luminosity that makes you want to watch her. Sarah Leary (Bethany) has a terrific range and a great sense of timing. As Perp and Candace, the bar’s secondary star-crossed lovers, David Lucey and Varsha Raghaven are adorable. Kevin Groppe, as Dr. Hardy, is both touching and comical. And Ross Brown, as Jason, provides a grounding balance to the silliness around him – until he performs in “The Show”.

The excellent score of “Creative License” gives the incredibly talented cast a lot to work with. I particularly enjoyed “The Play’s the Thing”, an extremely clever tango sang between Dr. Hardy, Casey and Bethany. The tension between Casey and Bethany during their snippy duet, “Delusional” is marked by Rachel Bertone’s tensile choreography. And “The Show”, possibly the funniest number in an already funny show, is reminiscent of one of “Gilligan’s Island” more absurd moments. The sound levels are just right; although ear plugs are graciously offered in the program, there’s no need. Kevin Cirone’s direction is crisp and keeps the action moving – there are no wasted moments onstage. The actors do the set changes themselves while the excellent four-piece band plays through them.

Kevin Cirone, in his brief but pointed program notes, states: So enjoy the fruits of our labor. We did it for you. Look at us. You should listen to him. He’s a really talented guy. For more info, go to: