Neo! A Matrix Musical, Bulldog 17 Productions, at the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. Extracting four words from my original review of this production, Bulldog 17 has emblazoned on its current poster “A late night hit!” What I actually said was that those looking to produce a late-night hit could learn something from this show, which had going for it only its reference to a pop culture phenom. Still, Neo! A Matrix Musical is in much better shape now than it was in April 2000. Actor Paul Vitulli–the lone holdover from the original cast–actually looks like he’s having fun this time around skewering Keanu Reeves’s wooden acting, and writer-director Fred “Erick” Garcia has filled his cast with classy actors who contribute fine singing voices and well-modulated performances.

But he hasn’t found an intelligent way to get under the skin of his source. This remains an uneven patchwork of warmed-over film dialogue, the music has been given too little thought for the show to qualify as even a parody of a musical, and overly deliberate pacing throughout saps the momentum. Worse, Garcia can’t reconcile his modest black-box intentions with the cavernous space: there aren’t enough lights on the rig to highlight the key action sequences, and he’s failed to utilize the natural entrances and exits of this church sanctuary. Be afraid of what Bulldog 17’s stubborn milking of The Matrix might bring: with two sequels in the pipeline, it’s time to reach for the blue pill.