Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: (Toronto) The Musical of Musicals: The Musical (Fringe)

Aspects of Absurdity
A little complex strictly for the converted
by Christian Baines

How well do you know your musicals? And whose musicals do you know? A good way to answer these questions might be to get down to Factory Theatre and check out Musical of Musicals: The Musical! The same story, told five times in the style of five well known musical theatre composers/teams, this spoof is shaping up to be a sell-out of the Fringe – revealing, if nothing else, that the festival does tend to attract more the theatre faithful than casual fans.

Because MoMtM draws the line plainly. If you know and love your musicals, you’ll have a wonderful time at this show. If not, you may be stuck there thinking... ‘Huh?’

The show is 90 minutes of tuneful silliness and mostly inside jokes, performed by an enthusiastic quartet made up of Mark Cassius, Adrian Marchuk, Dana Jean Phoenix and Paula Wolfson. Deftly working their way through the five parodies, they tell the story of June, behind on rent owed to the evil Jitter, seeking advice from Aunt Abby, while hoping that perhaps the heroic Willy can save the day (If he’s not too busy with the new boyfriend he’s met in jail. Thanks Kander and Ebb!).

The jokes are fairly disposable and unlikely to stand up to repeat viewing, but they’re fired off with such speed and finesse in Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell’s clever book, that they never fail to find their mark. Provided, of course, you have some knowledge of their targets – so brush up on your musicals if you plan to attend. For instance, I have to wonder if the fact that I enjoyed the parodies of Sondheim much more than the parodies of Rodgers and Hammerstein reflects the writing, or just my generation and tastes. And it’s hard to stop laughing (and to a lesser extent, cringing) as the pair go to town on the excesses of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jerry Herman too.

If you have a passion for the form, Musical of Musicals is 90 minutes of unbridled hilarity. If not, best bone up before entering its world.

Musical of Musicals: The Musical! plays July 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 14 at Factory Theatre
Duration: 90mins

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