The Evolution of Mann is an original off-Broadway recording of the musical featuring music and lyrics by Drama Desk nominee Douglas J. Cohen (Children’s Letters to God, The Opposite of Sex) and the book was Daniel Elish (13: The Musical) based on his novel, Nine Wives. The show follows the life of Henry Mann who is a thirty (ish) year old singleton in New York. After receiving an invitation to his ex-fiancees wedding he makes it his own personal mission to find his soul make and to go on the perfect first date! We have all been in that situation where you subtly want to pretend that you have your life in order in front of someone who is secretly jealous of and so even just the story of this musical is one that many people will be able to relate to.
The relatability of the show is only exaggerated by the fact that is a show in a world which viewers/listeners will recognise. One of the many great things about this show is that is it a story about dating in the twenty-first century while being set in the twenty-first century which makes all the observation quips that much more hilarious and clever. The creative team behind this project have considered what it means to peruse love with the added pressure of millennial stress. The show takes a comedic but honest look into finding love in the twenty-first century with almost scary attention to detail. The team behind it have worked hard to make this show as realistic as possible and the attention to detail makes it much easier for the audience to follow.
In this recording, the role of Henry is played by Max Crumm who manages to capture the nativity and energy of the character perfectly. It follows someone trying to improve their life in a way that is incredibly surreal and optimistic so the character must possess classic traits of being a dream which Max portrays flawlessly. I found the song “the year of weddings” to be incredibly relatable for all the worst possible reasons. I know that many people think of weddings as an excuse to party and to drink an ungodly amount of alcohol, the thing I relate to however is the realisations that occur on the morning after the night before. Now don’t get me (or the Henry) confused neither of us has done things that are so incredibly despicable or ridiculous but instead a series of smaller very embarrassing things. The song deals with Henry as he realises his actions at a specific wedding which encourages him to go out, change his life for the better and find his soulmate … that’s where the similarities between me and the character end! I enjoyed the song “she’s my wife” which shows a cautionary view of moving too fast into a relationship. I can imagine this song being performed with Henry (played by Max Crumm) as he moves in and out of a spotlighted freeze-frame to speak to the audience.
The cast of “The evolution of Mann” is one of the smallest I have ever seen! It comprises of two female and one male performer which is very interesting in my opinion. The duet between Max and Alice Trimm was incredible and I loved the lyrics of the song “Hard.” The song is a double entendre (double meaning) as it is not only talking about the male erection but also the hardships of modern relationships. This dual message is so incredibly clever and it is clear that the writers had put a lot of effort into making a song that works across multiple levels! While we are talking about the two means, this would be a good opportunity to say that this is a show meant for a more mature audience for the reasons just discussed! These double-layers lyrics appears again during “keeping my eye on the ball” as on the surface it is about a physical sports game but also about being more attentive in a relationship. These added layers make these songs fascinating to listen to and means that the audience is more likely to listen to the song again to hear things they might have missed before. Alice’s solo performance of “it’s only a first date” was excellently performed with all the emotion behind this song is wonderfully expressed. There is a bonus track on this recording which is Max’s cover of “it’s only a first date” which is also incredible in the same regards.
Overall this is a short musical (with the recording having a combined time of 50 mins including an overture, bows and a bonus track) with an extremely small cast that manages to capture what it is like to date in the modern-day perfectly! There are many incredible songs and moments with the lyrics being a highlight for me personally. I would rate this show 4 out of 5 stars! The show does have rights available online and so if you are looking for a show that has a strong male performer at its core then I strongly recommend “the evolution of Mann!”