This event was scheduled April 28-May 14, 2023.
It’s a comedy of sight gags and clever puns. It’s a showcase for four marvelous performers who can dance, act, and keep relatively straight faces while flawlessly belting out lines like “We’re singing because it’s a musical and everyone sings in a musical!” It’s a triumph for director Jill Turnbow, musical director Dakota W. Simpson, and choreographer Danya Conn Nunley, who have managed to corral actors and crew members into a unified production that is at heart a five-ring circus (with the rings one after another).
In all, it’s a delightful five-part show that, while pleasing audiences who adore musicals, will absolutely captivate anyone who has ever performed in or worked on a musical production. The five composers (or composing teams) that the production sends up are all icons of the genre, and even if musicals aren’t your thing, you will recognize the style of parody in each one.
For example, the opening number of the first piece, “Corn” (in the style of Rodgers & Hammerstein), features Gregory Gorrindo as the hero Big Willy, who may not live in O-klahoma but sings about a beautiful day—no, make that beautiful corn (with an appropriate farm field projected behind him), and then sings about how he doesn’t love June (Eliana Nunley) who sings she doesn’t love him back, but of course they both doth protest too much and—you can guess what happens. Before it does, however, a local Mother Abbess (where in the cornfields of Kansas did she come from?) offers June some advice (where did that Sound of Music-like “Dream Until You Die” number come from?). Well, just wait—there’s plenty more coming à la Cinderella, South Pacific, The King & I, etc., etc., etc.
Then there’s a chance for everyone to get their Stephen Sondheim fix, with parodies of songs from Company to Into the Woods to Sweeney Todd (Colin Toohey’s demon barber sings “I’ll kill them and sugarcoat them with paper maché!”) and more. If you’re not a Sondheim fan, just wait until “Dear Abby,” a send-up of Jerry Herman shows like Mame, Hello Dolly!, and La Cage Aux Folles, with more dancing and whooping it up than you can imagine. The highlight of this set is Auntie Abby (Kelly Fitzgerald) as an aging chanteuse singing “Did I put out enough . . . hors d’oeuvres?”
The second act gives our players a bit more to chew on—singing Andrew Lloyd Webber-inspired songs and dancing to Kander & Ebb-inspired choreography are actions not to be undertaken lightly on any stage. With wide-ranging and expressive voices, Gorrindo, Nunley, Toohey, and Fitzgerald are game for it all. They have mastered constant costume changes, a variety of dances, and seemingly effortless song transitions, and they serve up the material in fine form.
Fizgerald is once again in the limelight in a Webber-inspired tune in which she (loudly) spells out “Your name will stay over the titles, as long as it’s . . . over the top.” Toohey also stands out in songs spoofing Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, and even Joseph and the Amazing . . . well, if you know musical theatre, you know the rest of the title. And about that falling chandelier . . . no one person is given credit in the program for props, but it must be said that every prop and every costume introduced into the organized chaos of this production works. Debbie Johnson, Jane Lloyd, and Joe Crowley provide outstanding services to the show and the audience as costume seamstress, lighting designer/operator, and sound/projection designer, respectively.
But wait, there’s more, in the form of Simpson, who as musical director accompanies the entire show and often narrates key parts of the action (examples: “now for a highly symbolic ballet” and “Dream Jidder spits on the stage” in the Rodgers & Hammerstein piece). He’s delightful as the visible fifth wheel of the show.
“Speakeasy,” in the style of Kander & Ebb (known for Chicago, Cabaret, and collaborations with Liza Minelli), closes out the production with Nunley’s choreography taking center stage. Wow!
It’s not cheating to reveal one of the lyrics that cast members sing (quite exuberantly!) at the end of the show, since it’s so true to the tone set at the beginning: “Nothing else to say so we’re done!”
Nothing else to say except get your tickets now for one of the six remaining performances of The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!).