Couple Croons in Chevy

nyerator world Couple Croons in ChevyWe sent our General Interest Culture Reporter, Gillian Reagan, and her mom (!), to a Saturday matinee at the Atlantic Theater Company on West 20th Street. They caught an early performance of the new musical 10 Million Miles, which opens tomorrow. Here is her report:

In 10 Million Miles, Molly and Duane set out on an American journey so many of us have undertaken: the road trip! Tossing their belongings in the back of a Chevy truck, they drive into the Florida sunset and head north along the winding East Coast where, they think, a new life is waiting. These two twentysomethings—who had a one-night stand a few months before—realize pretty quickly that their journey is going to involve more than crossing several state lines.

Molly, looking like a goth Jersey girl I knew from college, with blond-streaked brown hair, thick eyeliner and black plastic bracelets, is played by Irene Molloy, a Philadelphia-based songwriter whom some might remember from the 1999 musical The Civil War. Duane is a charming, fast-talking, good lookin’, work-boot-wearin’ dude played by Matthew Morrison. (He crooned his way to a Tony nomination in 2005 for his lead role in The Light in the Piazza.) Michael Mayer, who staged the world premiere of Spring Awakening at the Atlantic before it skyrocketed to Broadway and won eight Tony awards on Sunday night, directs, and Keith Bunin—who has also written for McSweeney’s—wrote the story. The twangy music is based on Patty Griffin’s folk-rock. Ms. Griffin, who also lends her songwriting skills to Kelly Clarkson and the Dixie Chicks, wrote the score here, too.

Duane and Molly, who do their best to ignore the natural, inevitable sexual tension between them, meet myriad characters on the road, all played by Skipp Sudduth, who appeared in Woody Allen’s Writer’s Block at the Atlantic, and Mare Winningham, still most famous for her role as the slightly zaftig, granny-pants-wearing Wendy from the Brat Pack classic St. Elmo’s Fire (remember? She loved Rob Lowe, a.k.a. sax-playing Billy Hicks!). In 10 Million Miles, she plays everything from a curmudgeonly hotel clerk to a sloppy-drunk Atlantic City woman. Ms. Winningham’s renditions of Ms. Griffin’s “Kite” (as Duane’s sentimental yet clueless mother) and “Making Pies” (as Molly’s endearing aunt Penny) warmed our hearts, and kind of broke them, too. Who knew Wendy could sing? Billy always hogged the spotlight.

 

10 Million Miles, Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater, 336 West 20th Street. Performances Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m., through July 15; www.ticketcentral.com