Friday night we saw one of the most fun shows I've seen in a long time. The problem is that I wonder how much people who aren't musical theatre people would like it. The level of your delight in this show is probably proportional to your in-depth knowledge of Broadway musicals.
It's called The Musical of Musicals: the Musical and it was written by people you've probably never heard of, Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart
The writers take the basic plot: "I can't pay the rent." "You must pay the rent" "I can't pay the rent," "I'll pay the rent," the classic old mellerdrama plot line, where some mustachioed villain ends up tying the heroine to the railroad tracks.
Not quite that visual in this show, since there are minimal sets, but you get the idea.
Anyway, they take that basic plot element and present it as if it had been written as a musical by: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Jerry Herman, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kander and Ebb.
Starting with a show called, appropriately Corn, which is set "in Kansas in August," and into which a strong figure occasionally appears, legs spread apart and hands on hips, a la the King of Siam, young June is trying to find a way to pay the rent to landlord Jitter, who obviously has less than pure intentions toward her.
Hero Billy wants to help and during the course of things dances a ballet of sorts. In a discussion with June she yells "ok-ok-ok" at him and he responds "Don't throw OKs at me," which is a line I thought was hilarious, but which seemed to fly over Walt's head.
When she needs a word of advice, the wise Mother Abby, who starts the show churning butter, sings about how she follow her dreams until she dies.
Oh yeah--and there is my very favorite song in the show, which is called "Clam Dip." If I can ever transcribe the lyrics (I downloaded the cast recording from iTunes) I will definitely share, at least with the Pinata Group.
Corn ended in 15 minutes, with Jitter falling on his knife and everyone else living happily ever after.
This is followed by A Little Complex, a salute to Stephen Sondheim, in which the forest of Into the Woods becomes a housing development called "The Woods" and the landlord looks surprisingly like Sweeney Todd and they talk about "specific overtures" (Pacific Overtures).
The characters sing about "Irony!" "Ambiguity!" "Dissonance!" "Angst!" and there seems to be a painter who pops in now and then, a reference to "Sundays in the Park with George.
This show, too, ends after 15 minutes and we move on to the next show.
Dear Abby is a salute to Jerry Herman and all of those grand entrances and finales that he is so noted for. The setting is a cocktail party at the apartment of Abby (an Auntie Mame type)
Martha Kight and Michael RJ Campbell
Kight, the "older woman" gets all sorts of opportunities to shine as Auntie Mame and Norma Desmond types and there is a lot of use of a pink boa in a salute to La Cage aux Folles.
June becomes Junita in the salute to Andrew Lloyd Webber as she gives an Evita-like performance. There is dialog about writing songs for his girlfriend and the lovely exchange between the composer and his star, "Do you write everything yourself?" the ex-rock star Junita asks the Phantomlike composer who is wooing her.
"Do you know opera?" he parries.
"No," she says.
"Then I did,"` he answers.
The show ends with a send up which combines Cabaret and Chicago (perfect for Jeri!) which has that great Bob Fosse-like choreography and the wonderful parody by Campbell of Joel Grey's MC from Cabaret, and the very funny "Junie with a J" (a take off of "Liza with a Z," written for Liza Minnelli) and something that is almost a patter song which tells the entire story of Cabaret in about a minute...brilliantly.Having written parodies, I absolutely LOVED this show and appreciated every little nuance of music, dialog or lyric. I know I missed a lot of the fun and would like to go back and see it again. My colleague, who loves Shakespeare and hates musical theatre didn't seem to like it much, but this stuff is like mother's milk to me and I loved every single minute of it.
** all photos by Barry Wisdom