Though it’s a bit “meta-,” the latest offering from Portland’s Dramatic Repertory Company doesn’t require a degree in literature or a love for intellectual puzzles to be enjoyed. Having a healthy obsession with all things musical theater might help, though.

With the show’s title in brackets, it’s easy to figure that the audience is in for an unusual ride.  When one of the characters complains about being “stuck in a show where I am playing me,” one’s bearings can become a little uncertain. But in the end, despite the hall-of-mirrors feel at times, “[title of show]” is mostly about young writers and performers who would like to follow their dreams without selling out or settling for less.

Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell came up with the idea to create a musical about people struggling through the very early stages of creating a musical about creating a musical. The authors, who played themselves in the Broadway production of the play, are steeped in show-biz history and folklore at every level, and the references, some quite esoteric, fly fast and furious as their characters try to figure out exactly what it is they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

It’s a witty, high-energy show full of catchy tunes, and it’s even a bit touching for all those with a feel for the ropes and the hopes of working in theater.  Co-produced with Zany Hijinx Productions, this finale to the DRC season makes for a fun, if slightly exhausting, 90 minutes with four very likable characters.

Michael Wood and Andrew Sawyer play, respectively, Jeff and Hunter, two guys who may be “Two Nobodies in New York,” as an early tune states, but who love show-biz so much as consumers that they want desperately to get in on the creative end. With the help of friends Susan, played by Jen Means, and Heidi, played by Lisa van Oosterum, they transform what they are thinking and saying about what they want to do into a musical about that process.

The four individually step forward in song, then back when they “realize” they have no lines. With choreography by Vanessa SW Beyland, they dance and sing about dancing and singing and gradually develop hip but still vulnerable personae as the highs and lows of their pursuit are smartly dramatized.

Each performer, under the direction of Keith Powell Beyland, had standout moments on Friday night.

Means, in the early going, was very funny, and van Oosterum, later on, offered both some intentionally exaggerated and more sincere vocals that connected. Sawyer, who some may recognize from a recent spate of local TV commercials, was a goof with a heart of gold while Wood’s “let’s get serious” guy held things, at times barely, together.

Musical accompaniment by Victoria Stubbs, who also has a few lines to deliver, and the usual fine DRC technical work put the finishing touches on this show which puts the show back in show, or something like that.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.