The closing number of “South of Market: The Musical V2” is a tune called “Believe In Yourself (But Not Too Much).”
It perfectly sums up the spirit of this sassy, DIY production poking fun at the tech industry and the hubris and fears of the many young people in it.
Onstage at the Marines Memorial Theatre in an apparently beefed up, revamped production (V1 premiered at the smaller Z Space in The City in October 2016), the 75-minute show earns authentic laughs, and it’s no surprise: Writers Jenny Arimoto, Sarah Cooper and John Russell’s resumes have Google and AdRoll on them.
Interestingly, composer-lyricist-music director Tareq Abuissa doesn’t have a background in tech, according to program notes, but his songs are as amusing and spot-on as the book.
With modest yet charming production values given its glossy topic, the show tells stories of workers at intersecting 21st century companies.
Alex (Alex Akin), a recent journalism grad with a checkered background, is the new hire at TechFeed, a company putting out “news” stories on “top tech celebrity pregnancy Snapchats.”
On her first day, she’s shown around the office by her former college roommate, chipper Brooklyn (a lively Lexie Koss), the firm’s blogger who cheerily tells her she helped her get the job strictly for the referral bonus.
With her initial assignment being a “listicle” about a company called ai.ai — and ultimately an ad for SearchBar, which is funding ai.ai — Alex realizes she wants to do real reporting, and proclaims so in the knockout tune “Going Rogue.” Akin, the show’s best vocalist, belts with gusto.
She meets Ethan (a nicely straightforward James Seifert), the ai.ai honcho who’s trying and not succeeding at reining in egomaniacal company figurehead Hunter (the amusingly Ken-doll-like Will Letzler).
Hunter just may find trouble as he continues to make hollow promises about the status of the company’s self-driving technology in the name of “heading toward a billion-dollar valuation.”
Director Ken Savage and choreographer Jason Scott keep the action moving and giggles coming, while Alexis Lucio’s colorful costumes and Randy Wong-Westbrooke’s ingenious set design bring varied aspects of the modern working world to life, and not just the offices.
The climbing wall scene at Mission Cliff, with revered fitness instructor Jenna K (the robust Nicole Hardson-Hurley) singing “Boulder Moves, Bolder You” is a real hoot, as is an ensemble scene in one company’s Snowden conference room, in which the workers, wearing hoodies and sunglasses, sing, “We were told there would be perks.”
South of Market: the Musical V2
Where: Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 19-21, 2 p.m. Oct. 22
Tickets: $45 to $120