Sharon Fogarty's "anti-musicals" aren't like other people's musicals. Her current project, The Overdevelopment of Scott, is a free-wheeling science fiction morality show: it's loose, earnest, gentle fun.
The time is a hundred years in the future; the place is a genetics laboratory in New York City where seven "subjects"human lab ratsare studied and mistreated by a pair of disengaged technicians. Technician 1 wants to "overdevelop" the specimens (i.e., render them no longer useful), so they can be "put out to pasture" and he can retire; Technician 2, unrequitedly in love with 1, hopes that retirement will also lead to domestic bliss together. But newly hired assistant Scott (who was once a research subject himself) foils the technicians' plans.
Fogarty uses this plotline mostly as framework, though: the bulk of The Overdevelopment of Scott is devoted to vignettes and musical numbers about the seven lab humans, each of whom has been genetically altered to allow for study of a particular attribute. They are: Esther (bred for sex addiction), Freddie (raised by television), Gracious (eating disorder), Rita (cosmetics), Tammy (bred to be a good listener), Tito (effects of TV violence), and Virginia (smoking). They're a lovable bunch, and the incipient uprising that Scott provokes is entirely satisfying.
The show covers a great deal of ground: in addition to its obvious points about genetic research, lab animals, and various kinds of addiction, there's material ranging from philosophical meditation on life and death to a barbed musical number about how bad most Broadway musicals are. The piece has the easy structure of early musical comedy, with room for topical asides and even specialties (like Freddie's TV riff, which capitalizes on actor Jason Grossman's witty impressions of the likes of Johnny Carson and David Brinkley). There's also a really sweet love song, "True Love Stores," which is sung touchingly by Tammy (Anna Hayman).
Anti-musical as it may besome of the performers don't even try to stay on key, just as some of the lyrics don't even try to rhymeit's sweetly affecting; The Overdevelopment of Scott works, mostly because Fogarty and her energetic cast so clearly mean it. It is, finally, a trifle, but a slyly thought-provoking one: images will linger, tastily, long after the curtain has come down.