The Nervous Set

Music By: Tommy Wolf

Lyrics By: Fran Landesman

Book By: Jay Landesman and Theodore J. Flicker

Distributed by: Masterworks Broadway

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Based upon the novel by Jay Landesman, the Off-Broadway musical, The Nervous Set, opened at Henry Millerís Theatre in 1959.  It ran for a total of 23 performances and was considered a flop.  Masterworks Broadway released the Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of The Nervous Set in digital format on August 9, 2011.

            The musical takes place in New York City in 1950 and centers around Brad (Richard Hayes), the editor of the avant-garde magazine known as Nerves, and Jan (Tani Seitz), an uptown girl he marries.  At the time of their first meeting, Brad and his Village-based artistic friends declare their hate for New York, something completely astonishing to Jan who loves living in the city.  Shortly afterwards, Brad invites Jan to his apartment.  We jump forward to the following Spring and the two are married. 

            The marriage has its ups and downs as Brad is more in tune with the partying scene in the Beatnik society.  Jan is more comfortable in the upper class scene.  Jan has trouble adjusting to Bradís friends and, when she discovers that they are fleecing a millionaire by playing at tutoring him in poetry at fifty dollars an hour, Jan is disgusted.  Brad defiantly tries to defend his friends, but finds he is too attached to Jan and eventually returns to her.

            Listening to the Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of The Nervous Set, I wouldnít have been able to tell you the synopsis of the story - I actually had to look that up.  The songs really donít give you much of an idea of the actual storyline of the musical.  All I really got from the songs was that this was a group of party animals who hated New York.  I could tell that Brad and Jan were a couple having some problems regarding Bradís friends, but thatís about all.

            Some of the songs did have funny moments and I did laugh at New York and How Do You Take Your Love.  But what really stands out on this soundtrack is the jazz music - the drum beats, the jazz piano.  I found myself tapping my feet and nodding my head to the music. 

            Truly, the music is the only thing I found special about this musical and I can hardly recommend the Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of The Nervous Set based on that alone.  Jazz fans will enjoy the music, but thatís about all.  Itís no wonder to me why this musical was a flop.


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