Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Musical! the musical"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark

"Musical! the musical"

Artistic Director Stephen Gilbane
Developed by Nancy Howland Walker


Christine Cannavo
Karen Caplan-Perry
TC Cheever
Larry Coen
Mat Gagne
Brian Gallivan
David Marino
Don Schuerman
Cheryl Singleton
Elaine Theodore

What point is there in reviewing a musical that will never be performed again?
Okay, I won't. But I can tell you what happens when six or eight thoroughly experienced improv-stars attempt, with synthesizer and drums, to create a spontaneous two-act modern musical out of a title-suggestion yelled out by the audience. They have done "Edward Scissorhands" "Tremors" "Misery" "Casablanca" "E.T." and "Perfect Storm" already, and the yelling-out comes first, so come prepared with a favorite and, if possible, a claque who can out-applaud the dozens of competing titles. (They'll narrow it to three, so that's where the claques come in.)

The only real preparation the improvisers get is asking the audience for a quick summary of those major scenes which, "if we left them out would leave you feeling cheated." The cast is adamant that they don't --- wouldn't want, actually, to pre-plan scenes in their heads, or even assign roles. Whoever grabs or gets shoved into a part runs with it, taking solos or doing book scenes to stitch the plot together, rhyming off the cuff, and usually providing a chorus that everyone can join in and try to finish on the same note.

At the act-break, the group improvises one song for each of the two Unchosen musicals, and for these they as for a musical style (rap, opera, reggae) And without thinking throw themselves spontaneously into it. This is the sort of short-form improv most people are familiar with at such places as Remington's where Comedy Du Jour has been doing it every Thursday night for years. Their long-form musicals, however, go on uninterrupted for almost an hour an act, hewing roughly to the plot --- about as faithfully as Lloyd-Webber's version did "Sunset Boulevard let's say --- and surprising the audience and each other in the process.

And that's about it. There are no mirrors, nothing up their sleeves, Teller has to talk, and everything is bathed in the glow from The Great White Way. Go see for yourselves.


"Musical! the musical" (till 21 April)
255 Elm Street (Davis Square), SOMERVILLE
1 (781) 643-2188