Musical shows the ins and outs of finding love in the digital age

A man and a woman each sit alone in separate apartments, their faces lit only by the light of their laptops. A generic Internet dating site beams across the backdrop, and then the muttering begins. “Age?” “Astrological sign?” “Smoking?” “Therapy?” Brandon and Heather pause, consider their creative options when faced with the blank text boxes, and “OMFG! The Internet Dating Musical” is off and running.

Composed by ODC Theater artist-in-residence Christopher Winslow, with lyrics by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, “OMFG!” runs Friday through Sunday at ODC Theater, and pokes fun at the trials and tribulations of technology’s invasion into one of the most fundamental human experiences: finding a partner.

Using technology to customize the dating experience — and hopefully make it more efficient — has become fairly ubiquitous. Even if you don’t use it, someone you know does. According to a recent article in The New Yorker magazine, online dating sites racked up $1 billion in fee revenues in 2010, and one in six of today’s marriages started online.

The question is how to use dating sites to your advantage. The curation of the self, as if you are a one-time solo exhibition in a gallery showroom, is the bottom line, and “OMFG!” does an exemplary job at mimicking the neuroses it creates.

The main characters, played by Bay Area theater veterans Jackson Davis and Cindy Goldfield, begin with a blank slate upon which to present themselves. But in the effort to create a better illusion, they create their own stumbling blocks out of insecurity, thus trapping them both in a quagmire from which they must engineer an exit.

Jokes about retouched photos, preferences for sci-fi and Jane Austen, and embarrassment over “geeking out” are sprinkled throughout the musical. The infatuation bred from sharing common tastes and cultural preferences is visible, and is perhaps the aspect of the story that is easiest to relate to.

Even if dating sites don’t provide you with potential mates, maybe Facebook does, and MySpace used to — and who hasn’t gotten excited when you realize your crush likes the same bands, the same movies and the same books?

The most endearing moment of the evening is when Heather waits patiently for Brandon at their first in-person meeting.

Despite all the prep work provided by Internet dating, she remains nervous, picking over her dress, retouching her hair and twitching her leg in anxious anticipation.

Even if it was never its original intention, “OMFG!” could easily be the ultimate propaganda against an attempt to match up personal
profiles in cyberspace.

The tensions and misunderstandings created from behind the laptop in “OMFG!” are cringe-worthy enough to make you want to delete every online profile you’ve ever had and return to square one: talking to someone face to face. What a revelation.

OMFG! The Internet Dating Musical

ODC Theater, 3153 17th St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $15-$18
Contact: (415) 863-9834,

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