note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi
Mother … Cheryl McMahon
Fear … Michelle Dowd
Body … Wayne Fritsche
Apathy … Patti Hathaway
Samantha … Lisa Beausoleil
Birthday Singer … Molly Anne Kelleher
Conductor; Piano … Steven Bergman
Synthesizer … Anna Lackaff
Drums … Len Simboski
Bass … John Styklunas
MONSTERS: THE MUSICAL, premiering at the BCA, is a clever little show about 40-year-old Samantha undergoing a midlife crisis on her birthday; her angst triggers the personification of her inner “monsters” (i.e. Apathy, Fear and Body) who pick up tormenting Samantha where her overbearing mother has left off --- a strip-o-gram dancer and a mysterious box wrapped in yellow add to the comic paranoia. Gail Phaneuf and Ernie Lijoi’s libretto mines much kind-hearted mirth out of how screwed-up Samantha is and their score is tuneful enough to satisfy those who feel that a musical’s duty is to be just that --- tuneful; if Mr. Sondheim seems to hover over the songs, especially Samantha’s two anthems, at least it is the Mr. Sondheim from his COMPANY days, hip and swinging.
The BCA’s Plaza Theatre is an ideal setting for the Centastage production with its audience only inches away from the acting floor whereas a proscenium stage would only expose MONSTERS’ revue-like nature --- this is one evening where the trees are more important than the forest. Joe Antoun, a leading light in Boston’s cabaret scene, keeps everything briskly presentational and he is blessed with a cast that currently has the strongest pipes in town with Patti Hathaway’s Apathy daintily slumping away with the show in her sweatpants pocket --- considering veteran thieves Cheryl McMahon and Michelle Dowd are Mother and Fear, that’s quite an achievement.