Wednesday, February 16, 2005

What's this show parodying again?

"The Musical of Musicals: The Musical" is not a big budget production (it lacks any set to speak of and an upright piano is its main prop and music source), but it aims its sights at many of the over-the-top and overdone dynasties that have been Broadway's bread and butter for decades. Still, it's not exactly a primer for beginners; to really get its humor, you have to be able to flip through (at breakneck speed) a mental catalogue of all the shows it sends up. The same plot is repeated five times in the style of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander & Ebb (with a healthy dose of Fosse). If you're easily amused by general silliness, you don't have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of these artists' works. But I'd imagine it certainly helps. I have to wonder whether the creators of this show made up all the jokes from their own experience of theater, or whether they had to pore through video libraries of these Broadway legends first to create a show so dense with references. Usually when a show is so brimming with allusions, people rave and say, "See it twice, three times or four to get everything out of it." But this show feels more like a stand-up routine for theater geeks than any long-lasting humor fest. I laughed a good bit, it was amusing, but I don't imagine it draws heavy repeat patrons the way "real" musicals do. But I commend the four performers for juggling the various styles and jokes with agility.

The show is playing at an underground complex of five auditoriums called Dodger Stages on 50th St. past Eighth, which used to be a $3 Loews Cineplex Odeon (remember when you could see B-run flicks for that cheap?) before it closed and was converted into live theaters.

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