Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Musical of Musicals -- The Musical!"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Musical of Musicals -- The Musical!"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Foothills Theatre Company's final show of their season is the regional premiere of "The Musical of Musicals- The Musical!'' by Eric Rockwell (music), Joanne Bogart (lyrics), and book by both. The show is five mini-musicals based in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kander and Ebb, with a brief finale out of Marvin Hamlisch. The plot line is the same in all five segments. A young blonde haired maiden is about to be evicted by the mean and lecherous landlord, defended by a loving and valiant hero, and counseled by a savvy older woman. The authors use some of the original lyrics in a new context by twisting and turning them into comic ones for their new parodies. Act One starts off with "Corn!" which spoofs "Oklahoma", "Carousel", "South Pacific", "The King & I" and "The Sound of Music". The second segment is "A Little Complex" which spoofs "A Little Night Music", "Company", "Sweeney Todd" and "Into the Woods". The third one is "Dear Abby" which spoofs "Hello, Dolly", "Mame" and "La Cage Aux Folles". The first segment of Act Two is "Aspects of Junita" which spoofs "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Evita", "Starlight Express", "Phantom of the Opera", "Aspects of Love", "Cats" and "Sunset Boulevard". The last segment of the show is "Speakeasy'' which spoofs "Liza with a Z", "Cabaret" and "Chicago". The show ends with "Done", a take off on "One" from "A Chorus Line". This high energy show is directed and choreographed perfectly by Russell Garrett while musical director Kevin Ashworth not only plays the piano for the show but narrates it comically from scene to scene while changing costume hats to go with each one. This astounding four member cast appears onstage almost all the time and their multitalented performances win them a well deserved standing ovation at the close of the show.

Russell's clever choreography changes to fit each of the different composers shows splendidly as if you were watching the original ones. His blocking of each of the scenes is also topnotch and he keeps them moving smoothly from one to the other. Kevin's expertise on the keyboards is excellent and his line delivery is right on the money with each show, too. The young blonde heroine in each of the segments is played by Rebekah Jacobs who is a Kristen Chenoweth look alike. She has the most gorgeous soprano voice which she uses in "I Don't Love You" (R&H spoof), a "Wonderful Guy" spoof, "Birds" (Sweeney Todd spoof), an Evita song where she gets killed by a falling chandelier a la Phantom and "We Never Talk" a parody of "I Don't Know How to Love Him". Rebekah not only knocks your socks off with her voice but she is an excellent comedienne, delivering her one liners perfectly. Branch Woodman is the handsome swain who appears on the scene to rescue the damsel in distress. He has one of the most powerful tenor voices I have heard and as Big Willy, he gets to show his voice off in "I Don't Love You", "Corn" (Oh, What a Beautiful Morning spoof) , the Sweeney Todd chorus segments, "We Never Talk" and especially in the "Soliloquy" where he holds the last note for a very long time. (This number is a mixture of "A Puzzlement" and Billy's Soliloquy from "Carousel".) Branch gets many laughs in each of his roles but when he is a hoot when appears in short pants as Patrick from "Mame". The earth mother role of Mother Abby, Auntie Abby, Abigail Von Schtarr and Fraulein Abby is played by Amy Barker who is an Ann Miller look alike. This statuesque brunette has an amazing range to her voice singing "Dream" ( Climb Every Mountain) in a high soprano voice (Quavering at the end to imitate the older woman's vocal quality) and in a strong alto range she sings a spoof of "If He Walked Into My Life", (Mame) "Over the Top" (Sunset Boulevard)"Die" ( Company) and "What Would You Do" ( Lotte Lenya song from "Cabaret") The evil landlord in each segment is played by Peter Adams who scares the crap out of the audience as these five different characters. He gets show off his strong baritone voice as Sweeney Todd, The Phantom, The Emcee and as one of the Cats. As the Emcee, Peter leads the chorus in "Don't Pay, a spoof of "Cell Block Tango" and in a spoof of "Wilkommen", he uses many different languages, leading to many laughs. All four of these performers are spectacular in this satirical musical, making this one of the must see shows of this season. For a fabulous look at a new musical which contains familiar older musical sounds, be sure to catch "The Musical of Musicals - the Musical!" before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"The Musical of Musicals --- The Musical!" (10 May - 3 June)
FOOTHILLS THEATRE COMPANY
100 Front Street, WORCESTER MA
1 (508)754-4018

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