In the mood for a musical? How about five, with The Musical of Musicals: The Musical.
By Kay Kipling
The more American theater musicals you know, the more you’ll probably enjoy the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre’s current production, The Musical of Musicals: The Musical. But anyone even remotely familiar with the works of some of the stage’s most acclaimed composers should find entertainment aplenty here.
As the title suggests, this show, written by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart and a long-running hit both at the York Theatre Company and off-Broadway, pokes clever fun at many of the genre’s staples, from overused plotlines to bombastic production numbers to star turns that literally stop the show. Using the old melodrama setup of a young woman who “can’t pay the rent” to a villainous landlord but finds help from a stalwart hero, The Musical presents five little mini-musicals on the theme, ranging from the old-fashioned Americana of Rodgers and Hammerstein to the often dark style of Stephen Sondheim, the rock musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the splashy kitsch of Jerry Herman and the slick noirish qualities of Kander and Ebb.
It’s all very funny, and you’ll find yourself, certainly at the outset anyway, trying to keep track of just how many song/musical references there are to original pieces by the composers being parodied, from slices of The King and I and Carousel to Starlight Express to Cabaret and Chicago. But after a while, just let yourself go and enjoy the way a talented cast swiftly switches gears from one version to the next.
Kip Taisey, Cara Herman, Jessica Hanson, William Garon and musical director John Visser in the Golden Apple’s The Musical of Musicals: The Musical.
Among some favorite moments: Kip Taisey doing a roundup of R&H soliloquies; William Garon, a la Sweeney Todd, wielding both a palette and a sharp weapon as an artist/landlord who likes to cover his victims in papier mache; Jessica Hanson spoofing Evita’s thrusting arm movements in Aspects of Junita; and Cara Herman as a Mame/Dolly combo dubbed Auntie Abby, who belts, “I can’t sing or dance, but I’m the star of the show,” as she gives this treasured advice to those around her: “Live.” She’s also a hoot dressed up and growling out lyrics like Marlene Dietrich in the Kander/Ebb segment, but I won’t give away her best lines here.
The show is excellently directed and designed by Michael Newton-Brown, with sterling support from musical director John Visser and choreography by Dewayne Barrett that successfully encompasses the different styles so important to each type of musical, from a dream ballet sequence out of Oklahoma to those Bob Fosse moves complete with black hats and canes.
All in all, The Musical of Musicals: The Musical is just the right-sized package of summer entertainment. It continues at the Golden Apple through Aug. 13; call 366-5454 or go to thegoldenapple.com.