"They're Playing Our Song," the 1978 musical by Neil Simon and Marvin Hamlisch, with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, is now enjoying its second run in Washington, which appears to be at least one run too many.
Eveything about this production, judging by opening night at the Warner Theater, seems tired: the actors, the jokes, the music, the dancing, even the road-weary sets.
Simon's story, based (we are told) on a real-life "romantic relationship" between composer Hamlisch and lyricist Sager, is the stuff TV sitcoms are made on: Zany New York professionals, armed with psychoanalysts, confront each other, fall in love, fall apart and finally (in the show's up-to-date lingo) "work it out."
Lucie Arnaz, who played Sonia, the female lead, four years ago on Broadway, seems often to be acting in her sleep. Her husband Laurence Luckinbill, a veteran of big stage and small screen, is only slightly fresher as Vernon. Small wonder that their love scenes play like one-night stands.
Hamlisch's music is "so intrinsically melodic, so fundamentally basic, I don't wanna say 'commercial,' " as Sonia/Carole tells Vernon/Marvin -- but far below the quality he's reached elsewhere. Simon's dialogue, peppered with bathroom jokes and leering remarks, is unrelievedly glib.
"Suddenly, it doesn't feel like the right time to be in the wrong house," Vernon muses at one point -- unwittingly speaking for some in the audience. THEY'RE PLAYING OUR SONG -- At the Warner Theater through August 8.