Hilarious “Musical of Musicals” at Footlight

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I COULD BEGIN this review a number of ways.

I could say, for example, that Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)—The Footlight Players’ 2012
 Piccolo Spoleto Festival musical offering—is a hilarious and refreshing break from the same old 
musicals that every local theatre remounts.

I could say that young Jon-Michael Perry’s debut as a director is, at the least, an auspicious
 beginning for a promising talent.

I could say that the cast is filled with skilled comic actors and actresses, exciting voices, pretty 
women, men who can dance, and some very clever choreography.

But I think I’ll begin this way: Mary Fishburne is an extraordinary triple-threat as the lead of the
 ensemble. Her acting is versatile, her comic-timing impeccable, her physicality Olympian, and her
 vocal abilities wicked!

The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) is a sophisticated spoof of The American Musical. The “plot” is
 simple: June (Fishburne) cannot pay the rent and the landlord, Jitter (Kyle Magley), is happy to take 
alternate payment from the cutie. Her beau, Bill (Anthony Massarotto), wants to help but lacks
 commitment, and the wise matron, Abby (Katie Koehler), offers her sound philosophical advice.

All of
 this is backed by a talented chorus (Trey Barbaree, Haydn Haring, Latanya Mueller, Christina Leidel
and, Julian Summey), and a phenomenal, but invisible musician, Marsha Golsmith—who also directed
 the company musically.

ACT 1 plays this “plot” in three styles. First in the style of Rodgers & Hammerstein, with hilarious
 references to Oklahoma, South Pacific, Cinderella, The King & I, The Sound of Music, and Carousel. A 
highlight is Koehler’s vocal tribute to Climb Every Mountain and You’ll Never Walk Alone, which is 
summed up by the line “Follow your dream until you die!”

The second installment is my favorite—an astonishingly accurate spoof of Sondheim—which is no
 mean feat—in which Magley is the Sweeney Todd-esque demon artist. While deciding how to dispatch
 June, he quips:  “Hemlock is easy, but too Socratee-sy.” This part includes parodies of Into the Woods, 
A Little Night Music, and Company.
 ACT 1 ends with a funny lampoon of the Show-bizzy Diva Shows… Hello Dolly, Funny Girl, 
Gypsy, and Mame (“Where’s that boy with the bagle?”).

ACT 2 takes Andrew Lloyd Webber to task (and rightfully so). Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and 
JC Superstar are skewered. It is commonly known in theatrical circles that Webber borrowed many of 
his most popular melodies from opera. “It must just sound a teeny like something from Puccini.”

And one of my favorite lines in the show is from this section. “Be more self-indulgent than you
 even thought you could… Make it loud and add more reverb and the people think it’s good.” And, finally, the show ends with The Jazzes: Chicago and Cabaret, with a send-off nod to A Chorus 

If you’re concerned that you’ll need to brush up on your musicals to enjoy this, my date is Russian,
 and she loved it! In two and a half years in Charleston I have not seen a musical for adults that I’ve 
liked as well. Not even close!

Have I said, “Don’t miss this?” Don’t miss this!

Musical of Musicals runs through June 9 at the Footlight Players Theatre • Learn more here


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It is with life as it is with art: the deeper one penetrates, the broader the view.                   
~ Johann Goethe