Rust Belt Theater Company is serving up another round of relationship misadventures with “Dating Sucks: The Musical!”
The revue debuted last year, and Rust Belt founder Robert Dennick Joki was happy with the response.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “Winter theater is a tricky thing. You don’t want to do a show that’s going to depress people. It’s hard to get them to come out. I wanted to do a silly little show in February, and we sold out a lot of nights.”
Joki originally planned to stage “Dating Sucks” again this February, but he pushed back the opening until this month.
“We had more cancellations than we’ve had for any other show for the opening night of ‘(How the) Drag Queen (Stole Christmas)’ because of the weather,” Joki said. “I really wanted to avoid a situation where that would happen again. And the weather (in February) ended up being exactly what I was afraid of.”
Joki and Josh Taylor wrote the songs for the musical, which range from Broadway-style love songs to more broadly comedic song parodies.
“Of course, I’m a musical theater fan, so I like the prettier ballads,” Joki said. “The audience likes songs like ‘Monogamy Is for Ugly People.’ I like the prettier stuff, like ‘Cloud Nine.'”
This year’s production features five new songs and two short one-act plays, but Joki said they focused more on trying to improve on the elements that were part of the original production.
“With the music we’re repeating, what we tried to do is beef up the accompaniment,” he said. “Josh Taylor has worked really hard to add more orchestration to the songs. And there is a lot more dancing.”
Returning musical numbers include “High School Vampire Boyfriend,” “The Kids Are Not At Home,” “The Most Honest Love Song That You’ll Ever Hear,” “I Kissed a Squirrel,” “Friend Zone” and “Call Me Rapey.”
Returning cast members Marisa Zamary, Nicole Zayas, David Cirelli, Kage Coven, Hunter Thomas, Donnette Bishop, Lynn Sabeh are joined by newcomers Brittney Murphy, Adam S. Davis, and Jenn Stofko.
“This year we did have auditions,” Joki said. “People throughout the year said they wanted to be involved. I’m really trying to get back into that for every show. You don’t want people to get discouraged because they feel everything is precast, but in most cases that’s out of necessity. You have to make sure you have the people you need to put on the show.”