… found objects … 

Found is a charming, touching musical with lots of big laughs, beautifully performed.

It turns out there’s really a magazine, Found, that collects bits and pieces and scraps of writing — “love letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, receipts, doodles”  — and now there’s a totally delightful musical based on them.

A couple of original and independent-minded young people in need of jobs — but ones with meaning — come up with the idea of creating the magazine based on what turns out to be powerful emotional flotsam and jetsam.  Davy first recognizes the impact of these notes.  His is the original bright idea and his buddies Mikey D and Denise are in on getting the magazine going, encouraging him and doing a lot of the work — Denise quits her job to help him create the magazine — FOUND.  Success is followed by temptation in the form of an aspiring press agent from the West Coast, glamorous Kate beckoning with a plan for big money to be made with a FOUND TV program.  But the TV offer comes with strings attached, challenging the idealism – the purity — of the original vision.  How will this play out?

It plays out on a marvelously conceived set by David Korins, a wallpaper created out of the various pieces of paper, lined and unlined, ad hoc and fancy, intact and torn — an agglutinative compendium of heartbreak and hope.  The show is rich with delightful songs that trace the story of creation of the magazine, the looming compromises that follow success, and the outcome, and — in a parallel that strengthens an otherwise cliche love triangle — the personal stories of creative and hedonistic Davy, earnest, independent Denise and glamorous  and fiscally motivated Kate.  Words from the notes filter in at emotional junctures and morph into the songs, startling and touching the heart.

Like the radiance discovered in the diverse notes, the performers, headed by Nick Blaemire as Davy, Barret Wilbert Weed as Denise, Betsy Morgan as Kate and Daniel Everidge as Mikey D, are varied in size, shape, gender and color, and are radiantly expressive and alluring.

The music is lovely if not overwhelming, the performers are excellent, the set is a work of art and the show’s hilariously funny.  And what underlies the show and gives it strength and meaning — and what I think is really its ticket to the list of American musicals that will be with us for a long time — is the revelatory power of the notes, and the respect and appreciation the show leads us to feel for these things that have been thrown away, these authentic expressions — as specific as they can be, and at the same time universal.

Found plays at the Atlantic Theater in Manhattan’s Chelsea district through November 9, 2014.

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