Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Monky Business"

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entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Monky Business"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Theatre Works final show of their 22nd season is a new musical called "Monky Business". The fun loving monks of Saint Bernard's monastery are in a jam. Abbot Costello and his four beleaguered brethren have just learned that a real estate developer is about to turn their monastery into a gambling hall called Bernie's Casino Royale. Unless the merry men in Brown can raise $250,000 by midnight, they are done for. Luckily, the Brothers have a divine plan. They've rented religious radio station WGOD for the night and are hosting a radiothon fundraiser with plenty of singing, dancing and vaudeville routines. Abbot Costello, Brother Lee Love, Brother Brooks, Brother Clarence and Brother Forte all take turns strutting their stuff, and the pledged donations from the listeners start streaming in. But, unbeknownst to the other four, one of the monks is a devil in disguise and is out to sabotage their plan. The race is on between good and evil to win this race to beat a midnight deadline. Director Connie Anderson and musical director pick five topnotch men to fill these roles and a talented comic to do the many voices of the offstage characters as well as have him dressed as a priest greeting the crowd as it enters the theater. Costume designer Sharon Charette creates five authentic monk habits, a monk puppet and a gorgeous red satin suit for you know who. The many comic moments in the show will keep you entertained all night long.

Each character gets their turn in the spotlight in this show. The group numbers sparkle with dancing and harmonic singing and they include "Monky Business", "The Mohair Rag" about their monk robes, "Be Kind to your Brother", a country western hoe down number, "The Greatest Book on Earth", "My Brother's Keeper" and "heavenly Reward" which the four good monks sing to close the show. Paul Adam plays the ever efficient Brother Brooks who keeps the show running on schedule with his clipboard. His solo is "Long Distance Calling" where he explains how God called him 3 times before he answered the call. (A nice moving ballad.) Kevin Endicott plays the mute Brother Forte who runs the sound effects in the skit, Mayhem in the Monastery. A miracle occurs when Forte finds his voice, finally getting to sing "The Miracle Monk" in the second act. Kevin does a comic job in this role. Stage veteran Louie Lamoureux returns to the stage as Brother Lee Love. Love writes the material for this fundraiser and Louie's absent minded character is very funny throughout the show especially in his risque number called "Celibacy" where he wishes the monks didn't have to keep it. Mark Anderson plays the head of the monastery and gets to do a tongue twisting comic dialouge with Louie about his uncle being a brother, his brother being a father, his sister is a mother superior and his aunt is a sister. He also gets to sing a beautiful ballad called "People Believed" about St. Bernard and does a great job with it. The scene stealing actor in this show is Edward Benjamin III as Brother Clarence. His "boss" stops time so he can deliver comic lines and songs to the audience including a duet with him called "That God Guy". (Loved the special effects in the show especially the red spots, the falling key and the secret exit panel.) Ed reeks of smarmy charm throughout the show capturing the essence of evil disguised as good. His change of costume on stage is a hoot and his last exit is a nice vaudeville turn to it. The man behind the many voices is the talented comic, Frank O'Donnell who changes his voice constantly so you would never know it is him. He is hilarious as he wanders through the audience at the start of the show warning them about the plight of the monastery while dressed as a priest. The radio set by Mark Anderson is perfect for the show. So for a fun filled evening of religious humor done very comically, be sure to catch "Monky Business" with its one liners and humorous jokes as well as it song and dance numbers, too.

"Monky Business" (20 - 29 May)
78 Earl Street, WOONSOCKET RI
1 (401)766-1898

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide