A fair number of years ago, on a whim I went to see a show which had just opened at a new venue on Pico Blvd. Once there, I was less than optimistic at what awaited me. The theatre itself was shabby, rough and lacking the barest furnishings. The stage was stark and unadorned but for a screen on a tripod, the type your dad brought out when it was time to torture the family with reels of poorly shot home movies.
I considered bailing, but decided, “What the hell. I’m here.”
Well shut my mouth wide open.
What I had stumbled onto was the opening night of Kentucky Fried Theatre
It was the beginning in L.A. of the comedy troupe featuring Jim Abrahams, Jerry and David Zucker, and the late great Stephan Stucker, that would lead to Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane, Ruthless People and other worthy works.
And going to see “The Musical of Musicals, the Musical” by the Chromolume Theatre at the Attic I experienced that same sense of joyful giddiness at stumbling onto something so utterly unexpected and so totally entertaining.
Half Christopher Durang’s “The History of the American Film” and half “Forbidden Broadway” “The Musical of Musicals, the Musical” is a deliciously witty and razor sharp satire of the Great White Way. In the cross hairs are the most sacred of sacred cows in modern musical theatre, and by the end of the evening those sacred cows are rendered hamburger.
Eduardo Enrikez, Jean Altadel, Jason Peter Kennedy and Christina Morrell fill the bill as a cast of thousands demonstrating they have enough talent for double that number.
The setup is splendidly streamlined. Young, alluring June or Jeune or Junie Faye or Junita or Juny (all played by the talented Ms. Altadel), unable to pay her rent, finds herself at the mercy of the nefarious lusting landlord Jidder, or Jitter, Mr. Jitters, Phantom Jitter or Herr Jütter (played by the resplendent and rubber faced Mr. Enrikez). Fortunately, all is not lost thanks to wise Mother Abby aka Abby, Aunt Abby, Abigail Von Schtarr or Fraulein Abby (the dynamic Ms. Morrell) and the heroic Big Willy or Billy, William, Bill or Villy (as portrayed by the disarming Mr. Kennedy.)
There you have it, the plot in a nutshell with room to spare.
Yes, a rather threadbare tale, but in the hands of these four remarkably talented performers it’s woven into a tapestry of toe tapping, rib tickling travesty.
The first incarnation we’re treated to is a smart, layered lampooning of the Golden Age of the Broadway musical and the exalted graven images of Rodgers & Hammerstein. A skewering of “Oklahoma” is skillfully served up by our gang of golden throated Iconoclasts in a comedie buffe aptly entitled “Corn”, with our songbirds warbling, ¯“We’re singing because in a musical everyone sings!”¯
Reprising the same scenario for each rollicking refrain we’re treated to the same tale as harmonized by his holiness Sondheim, ¯”I’ve heard that song before, it’s short on substance but long on attitude!”¯ Next up on the block is the hollowed Herman, followed by a debunking of that divine trinity Andrew, Lloyd and the holy Webber, and finally defiling the blessed Kander and Ebb. ¯”Who cares if you’re over the hill as long as you’re over the top!”¯
This is pitch perfect parody at its peak.
Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart supply music and lyrics as well as the book, which is a paronomastic delight. It is apparent Rockwell and Bogart are true believers in the musical ministry they so lovingly mock, because they hit their mark each and every time.
Their “Jitter of the Opera” spoofing of Webber is a true gem, with the gem smacking him right between the eyes. ¯”You have the voice of an angel – a whiny self-absorbed angel!”¯
Director Kristin Towers-Rowles and choreographer Samantha Whidby cleverly capture the styles and essences matching each musical manifestation, be it in a faux Fosse or in providing potent pokes where pokes are needed – “Elaborate scene change and the audience applauds outa habit!” And all this with the exceptional support of Richard Berent on piano.
If you love Broadway musicals, if you hate Broadway musicals, either way you’ll love this show.
My one and only criticism of this show is aimed at the audience.
Where is it???
My lovely wife Marlene and I saw this show on a Saturday night, and we shared the experience with less than nine other stalwart theatregoers.
This is a great show, with a great cast, that I guarantee is a great time.
For it not to be playing to full houses – well that’s just a great shame.