by Beat Rice
Hugh and I, is a musical that delves into the youthful days of magazine mogul Hugh Hefner, starting from his high schools days until the conception of Playboy. Hugh starts off as a dorky kid in school who has no clue how to talk to girls. His cool buddy Jim shows him the moves and boosts his confidence. They meet girls, go to war, come home, and marry their girls. From the start, it is clear that Hefner has one strong ambition in life - work and write for Esquire magazine. His drive eventually leads to relationship troubles with his wife and friends. The production felt long but I suppose it was necessary in order to realistically justify Hefner’s complete character change.
The songs, written by Daniel Abrahamson and Dan Cummings, are in the style of your typical show tunes with ballads here and here. But some numbers, particularly the more swingin’ ones stand out, with choreography to match.
Gabi Epstein as Janie, and Jennifer Walls as Jim, both deliver memorable performances in both the acting and singing department. Daniel Abrahamson, who is also the composer and one of the lyricists, doesn't deliver a lead performance. Although he looks the part perfectly, his voice does not reach the back of the house.
At the end of the story we have little respect for Hugh Hefner and the choices he made in order to be successful. He repelled his loved ones away and we can’t sympathize with him. He argues that sex and sexuality should not be tabooed, but talked about. It’s a valid point, but not strong enough to justify his behaviour.