Lets see just how many musicals you can name that are spoofed in the show, “The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!”?? With combined efforts, you should be able to get close to ALL the musicals represented…Good Luck!
Noble Fool???s ???Musical??? masterpiece
Posted Monday, February 05, 2007
???The Musical of Musicals The Musical!???
Three and a half stars out of four
Attention you students and fans of musical theater. Before next week???s exam, the class clowns are leading an ingenious cram session spoofing five influential styles of 20th Century musical theater. The title: ???The Musical of Musicals The Musical!???
That???s right, composer Erik Rockwell and lyricist Joanne Bogart???s ???The Musical of Musicals??? revue session lovingly skewers shows by the likes of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein (???Oklahoma!,??? ???Carousel???), Stephen Sondheim (???Company,??? ???Sweeney Todd???), Jerry Herman (???Hello, Dolly!,??? ???Mame???), John Kander and Fred Ebb (???Cabaret,??? ???Chicago???) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (???Evita,??? ???The Phantom of the Opera???).
Rockwell and Bogart trumpet the unique approaches and stereotypical excesses used by each of these celebrated composers and lyricists in their own respective mini-musicals of: ???Corn!,??? ???A Little Complex,??? ???Dear Abby!,??? ???Speakeasy??? and ???Aspects of Junita.??? What makes each of these examples so clever is that Rockwell and Bogart lampoon everything by using the exact same plot scenario of a woman who needs a hero to help her pay the rent.
Those of you who know the course material will guffaw at every recycled catchphrase and theatrical convention. Who wouldn???t be chuckling at the symbolic Rodgers and Hammerstein ???dream dance sequence,??? the umpteenth fabulous costume change in Jerry Herman???s ???Big Lady Star??? shows and the relentless Andrew Lloyd Webber song reprise?
And for you theater procrastinators who haven???t done your homework (shame on you for delaying!), ???The Musical of Musicals??? is so informative and entertaining in itself that you???ll still laugh from all the snarky spoofing.
Noble Fool Theatricals at Pheasant Run Resort & Spa is the venue for this Chicago-area premiere of ???The Musical of Musicals.??? I???m pleased to inform you that the localized practitioners under the zany direction of Bill Jenkins are all commanding experts in the silly material.
Music director Harold R. Mortimer and pianist Tom Clear are goofball scamps constantly reminding you of the original songs without infringing copyright law. And boy, what charming chameleon performers you have with Leah Morrow, Tom Taylorson, Mick Houlahan and Catherine Lord! Each and every one of them display why they could be star performers in the actual shows being mocked.
This ???The Musical of Musicals??? also benefits from a clever production design. An added bonus is that Noble Fool???s costuming appears more lavish than previous minimalist productions in New York and London.
My only quibble with ???The Musical of Musicals??? is that creators Rockwell and Bogart should be using their writing skills to create new material instead of aping the ground-breaking work of others. That said, the spoofing work of Rockwell and Bogart is brilliantly spot on.
That???s all for this lecture on ???The Musical of Musicals.??? Remember, attendance is mandatory if you want to be tickled with laughter from start to finish.
The Musicals of Musicals: The Musical!
Funny, polished parody of Broadway icons a fine musical.
Genius comes in many forms and veteran musical theater actors Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell have written a most compelling parody of five Broadway composers. Their show, The Musical of Musicals: The Musical, the 2003 Off-Broadway hit spoofs Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Kander & Fred Ebb in a five scene musical tribute. The clever show has songs that easily remind us of the songs and shows from each composer. From ???Oh, What Beautiful Corn,??? (obvious reference), we both admire and laugh the cute parody of the legendary composers. All the greats get their due in a smartly slick, fast moving show rich in terrific performances from the five performers.
Tom Clear, the pianist and narrator sets the tone with his winning charm. His stellar piano accompaniment underscores the show. Tom Taylorson is the leading man while Mick Houlahan covers the villains and Catherine Lord plays the divas and mature women leaving Leah Morrow to be the ing??nue and younger starlet. Each of these tremendous talents had their moments rendering the various vocal styles and periods offered in each composer???s works. I especially like the work from Leah Morrow, whose bright eyes, comic instincts and vocal chops complemented the ensemble nicely. Morrow is a recent Columbia College graduate and someone destined for stardom.
Taylorson, Lord and Houlahan offer slickly funny performances that carry the show. Tom Clear anchors the musical and keeps the audience involved. Broadway musical lovers will rejoice in this gentle parody that never offends but gently spooks the genius of the Broadway composers. If you tune in to the lyrics, you???ll hear references to many musicals, show tunes and styles as well as knocks on Broadway divas and over-the-top characters. This tuneful and entertaining show is so clever that it needs to be seen more than once simply to experience all the references, pokes and jabs.
This production has all the elements of a tremendous show: witty lyrics and music, excellent subject matter, fine production values played by five talented performers. It is musical to be savored like a fine wine. This Midwest Premiere is worth the ride out to the Western burbs. Kudos to Noble Fool Theatricals for selecting this winner.
Tom99@chicagocritic.com for comments