Vivid Stage presents ‘Gone Missing,’ lively but uneven musical about losing stuff

gone missing review

From left, Becca Landis McLarty, Laura Ekstrand and Melody Stubbs co-star in Vivid Stage’s production of “Gone Missing” at The Oakes Center in Summit.

A lost shoe and the “lost” continent of Atlantis figure more or less equally in “Gone Missing,” the offbeat 2003 revue currently being presented by Vivid Stage at The Oakes Center in Summit. Songs and monologues also touch on losing your keys, losing your mind, losing love, losing a job, losing jewelry, losing the will to live, losing your sense of humor and so on.

This show — which features a book by Steve Cosson, and music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, and has been described as a “documentary musical” — started with members of the New York-based company The Civilians interviewing people about things that had “gone missing” in their lives.

“Could I talk about losing a husband?” an actress playing an elderly woman asks, a bit sheepishly. “Because I would certainly have a lot to say on that subject.”

I’m tempted to say that in the course of its 90 minutes, “Gone Missing” loses its focus. But it doesn’t have very much focus to begin with — through no fault of the six accomplished actors who work hard to sell this hit-or-miss material, under the direction of Joshua Schnetzer. Clark Scott Carmichael, Laura Ekstrand, Becca Landis McLarty, Scott McGowan, Melody Stubbs and Thomas Vorsteg seem to be enjoying themselves immensely as they sing, dance, and play more 30 than different characters — with a wide range of ages, personality types, and accents — between them.

From left, Thomas Vorsteg, Clark Scott Carmichael and Scott McGowan in “Gone Missing.”

There are certainly some amusing moments here, and some catchy songs — featuring music by a two-person band (keyboardist Dan Crisci and drummer Ginny Johnston), with some occasional help from cast member Carmichael on guitar. But I found myself — sorry, I can’t help it — losing interest at various points, due to the randomness of it all, and the fact that I just didn’t find some of the vignettes all that engaging.

One about a woman who loses a shoe and plots to get it back by posting flyers all over town and creating a dedicated email address ( was so silly that it wore out its welcome very quickly. And I could have done without the cop character who pops up from time to time to tell some inappropriately gruesome stories. Or the detour into the subject of hoarding (that’s the other side of losing stuff, I guess: holding onto everything). But another segment, about a father who goes to extraordinary lengths to retrieve his daughter’s beloved, lost sock-doll, was quite touching.

Being that this play was first performed in 2003, in New York, it is not surprising that there is a 9/11 story here, about a security guard who loses his Palm Pilot running away from the World Trade Center.

Melody Stubbs in “Gone Missing.”

That was definitely one of the more effective moments. But I struggled to find the point in some of the other segments. And if there was any reason for lyricist Friedman to write one song in Spanish, and another in German … it escaped me.

Cosson tries to tie everything together in the final scene with some homey philosophizing about how art is all about commemorating the things you have lost.

“Life is made of little things. What’s important is that we see them largely,” one character says.

I would have been more interested in the message if I hadn’t, by that point — and again, I apologize — lost my patience.

Vivid Stage will present “Gone Missing” at The Oakes Center in Summit through March 3; visit

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