High Fidelity Scott Miller's New Line Theatre staging of the failed Broadway musical by Tom Kitt, Amanda Green and David Lindsay-Abaire salvages most of the charm of Nick Hornby's novel with excellent performances and a careful refocusing of the action on protagonist Rob's emotional growth. Jeffrey M. Wright breathes a rumpled, resentful life into the obsessive Rob, which later gives way to a generosity that is believable and satisfying. Sadly, Hornby's latent sexism still results in underwritten women: Kimi Short's Laura is a one-note moper, seemingly not worthy of Rob's affection. Snarky record clerk Barry (Zachary Allen Farmer), however, is a delightful prick of a character, rude and lovable and always funny. The music is sharp and clever, and the New Line Band performs it all quite rockingly. Through July 5 at Washington University's A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard (in the Mallinckrodt Student Center), University City. Tickets are $15 to $18 ($10 to $15 for children, students and seniors; $8 rush seats available for students five minutes before showtime). Call 314-773-6526 or visit www.newlinetheatre.com.
— Paul Friswold