The Big Bang

Tim Hartman and Marcus Stevens
Boyd Graham and Jed Feuer's The Big Bang is a roller coast ride. A popular regional musical, the show was produced Off-Broadway in 2000. It's built for two versatile, appealing and vigorous actors, and, fortunately, we have Tim Hartman and Marcus Stevens (and another of their equal, Michael Fuller, who understudies both parts) plus a dynamic accompanist, Deana Muro.

The two characters, also named Boyd Graham and Jed Feuer, are trying to sell their musical, also called The Big Bang, to a roomful of potential backers (played by the very talented audience). Their show presents the history of the world, "from the dawn of time until the present," in four 3-hour installments, distilled in our version to an approximately 80-minute manic sales pitch as the two writers play numerous characters (among the show's 318), dress (and undress) in their own impromptu costumes, and sing and dance selected highlights from the epic and try to show the financiers that this $83 million show would be a great investment. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that the show would obviously be a disaster of historical magnitude, Graham and Feuer work hard at selling it, and so do Hartman and Stevens.

The setting is the living room of Dr. and Mrs. Sid Lipbalm's Park Avenue apartment - the couple have graciously made their home available for the pitch, though it's doubtful they were aware that their furniture, drapery and other possessions would be used as props and costumes for the event. By the end of the show, the apartment is as spent as the characters.

In what is basically a series of skits depicting various points along the timeline of world history, from the formation of the planet to the 20th century, we view this humorous bomb of a musical. The energy level is high; some of the humor is low. But you barely have time to groan at each pun - any bit that falls flat does so very quickly, and they're on to the next seminal event. Hartman and Stevens as Graham and Feuer present such historical characters as Adam and Eve, Queen Nefertiti, a crooning Atilla the Hun, the mothers Ghandi and Virgin Mary, Tokyo Rose and Eva Braun (with a jaw-dropping torch song for Adolf). Hartman and Stevens, who have proven themselves through numerous and varied roles in local theatre, are in their glory here. They both have excellent singing voices, which is a plus, as well as a talent for mimicry and accents. And they're not afraid to bare almost all for a laugh as they put it all out their through vocal and physical shtick.

Muro supplies substantial musical accompaniment from the minimum of instrumentation, and lots of personality. Karen A. Glass' set is appropriately Lipbalmish, with all of the accoutrements necessary to provide the boys with their props and costumes. The ways in which the apartment becomes part of the show are clever and well accomplished (credit, too, to costumer designer Barbara Anderson). Jason Coll's direction focuses the mania into an audience pleasing, good-natured, forget-the-bad-news-I-heard-today show, which is perfect for the Cabaret Theatre. It's a delightful escape from the winter blahs and sure to spark many laughs for any who can appreciate the just plain funny.

The Big Bang continues through April 27 at the CLO Cabaret. Tickets and performance information are available at the Box Office at Theater Square, by calling 412-456-6666 or through the website

Photo: Matt Polk

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-- Ann Miner

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