Reprinted from The Independent Weekly


Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, Progress Energy Center
Through Aug. 17

Back when Personals was written in the 1980s, the prospect of anonymous hookups was limited to an ad in the paper. Today, the Internet has changed the way people meet, fall in love, and stalk one another. It can go either way. My best friend’s brother met his wife through craigslist; a year later, I read about someone else whose craigslist date stabbed him.

Wisely, the production of Personals at Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy updates some aspects of the show to the ‘net era. The play, from the creators of Friends, consists of sketches about dating and relationships, with some recurring characters and plots, such as one about a personals editor (Michael Jones) whose life changes when he meets a transvestite dwarf.

The actors generally do a good job of selling the show’s more unbelievable bits, such as Noah Putterman’s gangbusters performance of “After School Special,” a rollicking if slightly creepy number about a lusty teenager. The emotional moments are often quite effective as well, with Katie Lynch’s wistful performance of “Imagine My Surprise” and Yolanda Williams Rabun’s heartbreaking “Michael” as highlights.

Personals zooms by at a fast clip and is a definite crowd pleaser, though there is the undeniable feeling that the show’s book could use an update. MySpace: The Musical, anyone? —Zack Smith