A 'Musical' of Grand Allusions
Monday, September 7, 2009
Inspired director Larry Kaye has returned to the show, as have actors Janine Gulisano-Sunday, Donna Migliaccio and Bobby Smith. Matthew A. Anderson, recently seen in Theater J's "The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall," has joined the cast, and the new music director and accompanist, Doug Lawler, is a jaunty presence at the onstage piano. Designer Allison Campbell has re-created her set, with its glimpse-of-backstage ladders and ghost light and its two-dimensional "Phantom"-style chandelier.
The performers appear to be having a
blast -- and who can wonder? "Musical of Musicals" is a truffle
concocted for theater cognoscenti. Composer Eric Rockwell and lyricist Joanne
Bogart (they co-wrote the book) have created five variants on a hackneyed
melodrama plot (villainous landlord demands rent from cash-strapped heroine;
resourceful hero saves the day). The variations wickedly parody the oeuvres of
Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber,
and Kander and Ebb. Verbal, musical and narrative
allusions zip by faster than tap shoes in "
Choreographer Nancy Scales Harry, also a
veteran of the 2007 run, adds another level of smart lampooning with dances
that skewer Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins's "The King and I" exoticism,
and more. A blatantly phallic sequence with a corncob, burlesquing Agnes de Mille's "
Kaye's actors have a field day with the material. Among various delectable turns, Smith totters around hilariously as a sinister, cross-eyed, denim-clad handyman (in "Corn," the Rodgers and Hammerstein caricature), and he's wonderfully unhinged as a quivery-voiced Sweeney Todd-esque killer. Gulisano-Sunday segues deftly from a "Company"-style neurotic in librarian glasses to a brassy Evita clone.
Whether he's doing the
Mayes's impact has yet to be gauged, but
given the production's overall strength, musical
theater enthusiasts who missed the show in 2007 -- and even those who didn't --
should schedule a visit. If you treat your original-cast-album shelf like a
shrine; if you can name every diva who's ever played
Momma Rose on the
The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!), music
by Eric Rockwell, lyrics by Joanne Bogart, book by Rockwell and Bogart.
Directed by Larry Kaye; musical direction, Doug Lawler; lighting design, Terry
Smith; costumes, Erin Nugent; sound, Steve Baena.
About 1 hour 45 minutes. Through Oct. 18 at MetroStage,