What the f*@k? Who the f*@k? How the f*@k? These questions (and more) will be answered in this review of [title of show], which opened in The Turpin Theatre on March 31, 2017. It is a 2004 musical comedy by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell that follows a quartet who try to get their stage production to become a reality.
Do not be fooled by the all-too-familiar plot. The script is about them writing the script that they are currently performing, so it takes self-awareness to another level. This show is a tightly written jaunt that fires humor out like a comedy AK-47. It is smart and feels connected, but also offers multiple levels of entertainment. The music is fun, fresh, and (at times) reflective.
This particular production starred Mitch Lyon, Angela Lyon, Daniel Johnson, and Chelsea Davis. Mitch and Daniel play the author and composer. Angela and Chelsea are their actor friends. Finally, Andrew Long serves as the accompanist who also serves as a cameo role. An immediate observation is that the show caters to a strength in each one of the actors. It allows them to showcase themselves.
(Clockwise from top: Mitch Lyon, Daniel Johnson, Angela Lyon, and Chelsea Davis)
Each actor was good on every level and great in at least one. A. Lyon, for example, was able to sing, dance, and act. What she brought special to the production was her natural comedic energy that was consistent throughout. Lines that may have not been funny were brought to life with her timing and expressions. Meanwhile, Johnson was possibly the most grounded in terms of acting, though he certainly is a singer and capable of garnering laughs. Davis, who has proven her acting and singing ability, brought a gentility to the otherwise aggressive group. It provided a much needed balance especially when doing numbers like “A Way Back to Then.” Finally, M. Lyon was probably the best vocalist of the group, though he had his moments with comedy and dance. Ultimately, it was a roulette wheel of talent, where someone was always winning. Even Long manages to pop out his 3 or 4 lines with fun innocence, while slaying the music on piano.
The highlight numbers included “An Original Musical” where Jeff (Johnson) duets with a blank piece of paper (M. Lyon). Lyon explodes as a foul-mouthed urban muse, while Johnson is undeniably charming in his delivery. “Die, Vampire, Die!” is also worth mentioning as Susan (A. Lyon) takes lead with support from the rest of the cast. This number moves from funny to suddenly reflective, without missing a beat. “Secondary Characters” (Davis and A. Lyon) and “Nine People’s Favorite Thing” also stood out due to writing and performance.
The only minor criticism is that I was unaware the two lead male characters were gay. There were moments and gestures, but it felt more like they were using them for effect and not part of their characters. It wasn’t until much later in the show that someone said something in a non-comedic tone that I realized. It didn’t deter any entertainment value, though.
Overall, the show had no low points, moved well, was choreographed appropriately for the space and told a full story with minimal props and set. It was proof of what can be accomplished with the right talent and some creative thinking. [title of show] is a quick, but relentless musical comedy that needs to be experienced. Call Gaslight at 580-234-2307 to get your tickets.