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Onstage: Review: The Musical of Musicals (the Musical!)

Playhouse's spoof of Broadway is a ton of fun

By Tom McElfresh · November 19th, 2007 · Onstage
  Kristin Maloney is one of the Broadway spoofers at Playhouse in the Park.
Sandy Underwood

Kristin Maloney is one of the Broadway spoofers at Playhouse in the Park.

To wring the biggest bang from your buck, you should brush up your Broadway before seeing Musical of Musicals: The Musical! at the Cincinnati Playhouse. The fun -- and there's a ton of it -- is in savoring the gazillion satiric allusions to the scores and scripts of high-profile musical comedy makers.

Composer-librettist Eric Rockwell and lyricist-librettist Joanne Bogart retell the same threadbare tale -- "You must pay the rent." "I can't pay the rent." "I'll pay the rent." -- five times, aping the style and music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb.

Some allusions are obvious, others sly.

"Don't throw OK at me." (Think Oklahoma!)

"Specific overtures." (Think South Pacific.)

To reveal any more would be stealing.

The funniest lampoons are of Herman's Dolly and Mame, with sideswipes at La Cage. The subtlest and most trenchant are of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and Into The Woods.

When they're having fun with Kander and Ebb's Cabaret and Chicago, there are as many references to performances as to material -- including dead-on rips of Bob Fosse's choreography, Joel Grey's mannerisms and a riotous though semi-respectful send-up of Lotte Lenya.

Mostly, Musical of Musical's satire is warmly affectionate. Jabs at Webber's Phantom, Sunset Boulevard and Cats are somewhat more acid.

Lyricist Bogart leads the able, agile company, singing the funny songs she wrote for herself. Rich Silverstein doubles as singer/dancer/actor and musical director/pianist and succeeds at all tasks. Kristin Maloney is a bright, sweet hoot in the ingénue and leading lady roles. Brent Schindele sings, dances and spoofs with accomplished élan. All four are new to the Playhouse.

Director Pamela Hunt staged the show's most recent off-Broadway run and reassembled her technical team here to repeat their slick successes. Grade: A

MUSICAL OF MUSICALS: THE MUSICAL! continues at Playhouse in the Park through Dec. 23. See performance times, buy tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.



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