The time is 2000, and the place is Chicago. David Rothbart walks over to his car and finds a note on his windshield addressed to Mario: “I f’ing hate you…you said you had to work…then whys your car HERE at HER place?? You’re a f’ing LIAR…I hate you…I f’ing hate you. (Signed) Amber…PS…Page me later.” Obviously, the note is meant for someone else – but Davy can’t help noticing that the short note says volumes about Mario – and the writer Amber. Thus was born an idea which Davy subsequently parlayed into an indie magazine called “Found,” a compilation of thousands of notes which tell a story – even if only in the reader’s imagination. Inspired by dozens of those conversational snatches in Davy’s magazine, the IAMA Theatre Company presents the West Coast premiere of FOUND, a new musical.
With book by Hunter Bell and Lee Overtree and music and original lyrics by Eli Bolin, FOUND has set to music many of those snippets preserved forever in tiny “disposable” bits of real life. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, FOUND forever memorializes letters, lists, and fleeting thoughts written on paper meant to evaporate when the sun rose. But Davy Rothbart didn’t allow that to happen – and neither do the enthusiastic and energetic cast of ten as they display the vim, vigor, and vitality underlying those phantom messages.
FOUND follows the adventures of Davy (Jonah Platt) from his first flash of insight into the value of throwaway notes to his founding a widely-circulated indie magazine. As he attempts to grow into an entrepreneur, engage in television history, and finally come to terms with what first drove him to pursue an idea ripe for the plucking, Davy takes audiences with him every step of the way. Alongside buddies Denise (Jordan Kai Burnett) and Mikey D (Mike Millan), Davy works at finding an audience while discovering love with Becka (Karla Mosley) – but is it a love meant to last?
But the real star of the show is the multitude of notes found after years of scouring every corner in town. The audience can’t help but laugh – while shuddering – about “Dear Mom, summer camp isn’t fun anymore, everyone is dying.” Or the poignant love letter: “Dear Ron, things haven’t been the same since we found out we were related.” Or the mystery behind, “I Becka McNeil state herein that upon my death Drew Kopel has all legal rights to my skull.”
The songs and choreography are bouncy and fun, and the idea is cute in a “Mad Lib” sort of way. Laughs abound amidst toe tapping and a generally upbeat production. A big hit in New York has crossed the continent to entertain West Coast audiences. Although a little long – with a first act which tends to drag – FOUND picks up the beat in the second act for an enjoyable and at times hilarious evening.
FOUND runs through March 23, 2020, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays and at 4 p.m. on Sundays. The IAMA Theatre Company performs at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, call 323-380-8843 or go online.