Life and love in The City

Imagine a cross between TV’s “Friends” and Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City,” and you have an idea of “Insignificant Others,” composer/lyricist L. Jay Kuo’s sweet-and-silly (and poignant) musical valentine to young homo- and heterosexual love in San Francisco.

Kuo’s twentysomething “others” are five starry-eyed Midwesterners — two gay childhood pals and their three straight women friends — who relocate here seeking adventure and romance. But one of the gay men, Luke, is quietly, hopelessly in love with the other — who in turn is infatuated with a hard-drinking co-worker who may or may not be gay. Two of the women end up unwittingly having an affair with the same “perfect guy.” The third, the feisty Margaret, dates a series of less-than-ideal boyfriends. In addition, a chorus of three men and one woman enhance the action in various ways.

In a show that’s light on book and heavy on song, Kuo mixes comedy, sentimentality and genuine heartbreak. His initially hopeful characters go through various personal encounters in their freaky adopted city — scenes are set in places such as Rainbow Grocery and Café Du Nord — and become temporarily quasi-estranged from one another before, predictably, rediscovering and celebrating the bonds of enduring friendship.

Kuo’s humor, played out too broadly under George Quick’s heavy-handed direction, is hit-or-miss: ongoing satirical commentary about Starbucks taking over the world, for example, and some jabs at right-wing, homophobic Christians, just aren’t that freshly imagined or funny. And after a while the songs, with their wistful air, start to sound alike as the bittersweet musical drags on a little too long. Nor does it help that the cast is uneven in both musical and acting skills.

Exceptions are Margaret’s truly witty songs of lament, as belted out by a brassy Sarah Kathleen Farrell — one of her lovers turns out to be a female-to-male transsexual, another is extremely well-endowed, a third is as hairy as an ape. And slender, vulnerable-looking Andrew Sa is touching as Luke, singing passionately of his unrequited secret love for his best friend.

At these times, and in a few — but too few — other scenes, the struggles of these kids feel authentic and universal.

Insignificant Others **½

Where: Zeum, 221 Fourth St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, closes Sept. 23

Tickets: $35 to $39

Contact: (866) 811-4111 or www.isomusical.com

artsentertainmentOther Arts

Just Posted

A felled tree in Sydney G. Walton Square blocks part of a lane on Front Street following Sunday’s storm on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
After the rain: What San Francisco learned from a monster storm

Widespread damage underscored The City’s susceptibility to heavy wind and rain

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

A felled tree in San Francisco is pictured on Fillmore Street following a major storm that produced high winds and heavy rains on Oct. 24, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Philip Ford)
Storm updates: Rainiest October day in San Francisco history

Rainfall exceeded 10 inches in parts of the Bay Area

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
The Department of Building Inspection, at 49 South Van Ness Ave., has been mired in scandal since its creation by voter referendum under Proposition G in 1994. (Courtesy SF.gov)
Whistleblowing hasn’t worked at the SF Dept. of Building Inspection

DBI inspectors say their boss kept them off connected builders’ projects

Most Read