Robrt Pela: Review of "Musical of Musicals (The Musical)"

April 05, 2013

This morning, theatre critic Robrt Pela reviewed Theatre Works' production of "Musical of Musicals (The Musical). "Musical of Musicals (The Musical)" has a beard a mile long. This send-up of Broadway tuners should at this point in the "let's spoof-musical theater game," play like a post-peak retread, an after-thought of irony or a late-to-the-party lesser-than.

But, in its Theatre Works' production, there is the joy of watching a fine-tuned cast play perfectly together. There's the bonus of a versatile musical director who is as much of the cast as the players, and there is Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart's expert parodies of the musical stylings of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Kander and Ebb, Jerry Herman and Andrew Lloyd Weber.

The conceit here is that each of the five acts is an "In the style of..." musical that tells, while rigourously spoofing the aforementioned composers, that old saw about the angry landlord,the busted damsel and the hero who rescues her.

If there's any genius in this revue, it's that Rockwell and Bogart have created musical homages that are so spot-on they could be the real thing. Patrons who don't know their Sondheim song structures will still enjoy clanky references to "making overtures" and silly stories about depressed people.

Even the groaners are surprisingly fun. In the Weber section, the Phantom is a "cat of many colors" while the Kander and Ebb segment is set in a cabaret in Chicago, where everyone sings a song about "goodbye" in several different languages.

In a crowded field of fine performances, Bannow is excellent. Her Jerry Herman heroine, a twitchy amalgam of Dolly Levi and Mame Dennis, is a riot.

Steve Hilderbrand's irate landlord milks every villainous laugh, and Sweis and Camille Gribbons, as the young leads, harmonize beautifully and are alternatively hilarious and very sweet. They, and multitalented accompanist and narrator Bill Moore, prove that, however briefly, everything old can be new again.

"Musical of Musicals (The Musical)" continues through April 7 at Theatre Works.  Robrt Pela's theater reviews appear each week in New Times.

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