If you like your Broadway show tunes shaken and skewered, belly up to the Quality Hill Playhouse for a very clever, very funny little show with a mouthful of title called The Musical of Musicals.. The Musical…
Yeah, it’s a spoof. Kent Barnhart first produced this charmer eight or so years ago. Now he and a talented company have dusted off the pipes, plugged in the cattle prod and unleashed a whole lot of laughter down on 11th Street between Broadway and Central.
This Musical’s conceit is a simple one– you take the old boy meets girl, girl misses rent, landlord demands girl marry him storyline (I know, you’ve seen it a hundred times) and dress it up with the music of five of Broadway’s greatest songwriting teams. Each skit lasts about 20 minutes– you get five shows for the price of one!
Before you run out and buy a ticket to Musical of Musicals on my suggestion, however, beware: you need to know something about Broadway showtunes to enjoy this piece of fluff. Otherwise, you’ll be as confused as an Eskimo at a Woody Allen Film Festival (they’re the ones who don’t speak Yiddish). On the flip side, the more you know, the funnier it gets.
Like when Big Willy (the evening’s handsome leading man, Jon Daugharthy) and his girlfriend June (cutie Ashley Pankow) send up all of those Rodgers & Hammerstein I-don’t-love-you songs (“People Will Say We’re in Love” from Oklahoma, “If I Loved You” from Carousel) with a song called (what else): “I Don’t Love You” Sondheim gets his comeuppance in “A Little Complex” when the versatile Tim Scott becomes a knife-wielding landlord in a spoof of “Sweeney Todd.”
The tunes are blissfully faithful and the lyrics really smart and funny. There are some clunkers here and there– a few too many references to the real song lyrics stuck in dialogue that’s only there to get a laugh. But that’s small potatoes for an otherwise tasty menu of mirth.
Kent Barnhart deadpans his way thru the evening, providing his always spot-on piano accompaniment (all by himself this time). Director Rick Truman does a nice job moving things around, though (at least on opening night) there were some slow moments between the pieces. Not much in the way of costumes and scenery, but when the material is this clever, who needs a crashing chandelier? (spoiler alert: the play has one in the very funny Andrew Lloyd Webber segment, with Scott as the Phantom Landlord and rubber-faced Julie Shaw channeling Norma Desmond).
Like I said, you’re not going to get much out of Musical of Musicals.. the Musical if you don’t know anything about… musicals. If you’re a Broadway fan, however, this show will leave you smiling AND humming the score all the way home.