High Fidelity- Hart House

By Dana Lacey
cast of high fidelity by Daniel DiMarco

Hart House Theatre
‘s musical adaption of High Fidelity has a lot working against it. Namely no John Cusack.


But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it. Here’s the top five reasons why:


1. Rob


The story starts when musical elitist Rob Gordon gets dumped. We watch him navigate through life by reliving past relationships and debating ‘top five’ lists. (His top five dream jobs include writing for the famous journo rag New Musical Express between ’76 and ’79 or producing at Atlantic Records between ’64 and ’71. Instead he owns a customer-starved vinyl record store.


2. It’s already famous.


After more than a decade in print and on screen, High Fidelity has itself made a lot of top five lists. Author Nick Hornby wrote the wildly successful book in 1995, and Hollywood grabbed hold in 2000. Cusack muttered his way into many hearts as neurotically romantic Rob, cementing his legacy as the ultimate chick flick anti-hero.  The book launched Hornby’s career and the movie boasted one of Jack Black’s best performances as himself. Needless to say I had high expectations for the musical.


3. There’s stuff to complain about (important for elitists)


The first 20 minutes were the hardest to get through. The best parts of the movie were quoted word for word: The cast weren’t characters, they were parrots. Also I blame myself for this but my Cusack bias made it very hard to relate to the blond, clean cut David Light as a convincing 30-something rock snob. David was more like a Backstreet boy than one of the Ramones. But at least he could sing.


4. (A-side) It’s a musical


The songs saved this musical from itself. When his girlfriend leaves him, Rob scoffs and sings “You aren’t even in my top five breakups” while surrounded by a chorus line of the infamous Top Five. Jamie Arfin as Rob’s ex bites back in a brassiere and assures him with a steamy diva number that nobody gets over her easily. I don’t think anyone objected when she inserted herself into his list. The music really picked up in the second half, and I almost forgot about Cusack.


4. (B-Side) Nerds


The mötley crüe of record store shoppers sent me right back to my school days when I worked at a music megastore that shall remain unnamed. I loved Carl Swanson as the loveable loser Dick: his “No problem” solo celebrated the doormat in us all.


5. Jason Zinger


I didn’t think it was possible to reclaim a Tim Robbins performance, but Jason Zinger was great as the super-sexed and smarmy Ian as he croons about past lives with lines like “Maybe you were Helen Keller, and I was the water.” (He also played a fantastic Satan in Hart House‘s Jerry Springer the Opera.)


The musical also topped my all-time best rewind scenes (also on the list, Ace Ventura.) Guest appearances by aging rock gods helped too. The songs bounced between cheesy, sentimental, hilarious and sexy, with plenty of guilt-inducing soul searching. I particularly loved when Rob’s pal does her best friend duty with an amazing rendition of “You meet, she moves in, she goes.”

High Fidelity
the musical is worth checking out, even if you’re not a Cusack fangirl (or maybe especially if you’re not?)




Photo of  Rob’s Exs: Erynn Brook as Charlie, Cora Matheson as Alison, Jamie Arfin as Laura, Jordie Currie as Sarah, Karen Scobie as Penny by Daniel DiMarco


High Fidelity runs until January 30, 2010 at Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle, University of Toronto)


Week 1: Fri-Sat 8pm
Week 2: Wed-Sat 8pm
Week 3: Wed-Sat 8pm & Sat 2pm matinée

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 students & seniors. ($10 Student Tickets every Wednesday Night)


Tickets are available online or at the box office.

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