Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Boston

Musical! The Musical!

Also see Suzanne Bixby's new review of The Curse of the Bambino

The six performers who make up the Musical! The Musical! company entered the small carpeted area used as a stage in the Works Theatre in Somerville. We were warned right off the bat that this is an all-improv evening with the following disclaimer: "We might really suck, and that's a risk you're taking." And so it began, one of the most entertaining evenings I've had in Boston theatre.

If you are not yet familiar with the antics of Musical! The Musical!, the concept is this: the audience shouts out various book, film, and play titles that have yet to be made into a musical. The performers then choose three of those titles they believe they will be able to successfully turn into a musical. The audience votes to select one idea, an audience member plunks out three notes on the keyboard that will be used to formulate an overture and we're off! A 90 minute world premiere musical complete with songs, dances, and dialogue is improvised right in front of our eyes.

On the night I attended, Braveheart! The Musical! was the audience favorite and the show began with a rousing jig entitled "Wedding in the Highlands." The other musical numbers varied in style from funk and rap to madrigal. What followed was, I assume, the most twisted, offbeat version of "Braveheart" ever to be performed. The six performers portrayed several roles apiece, clad only in black pants and colored shirts as their costumes. The performers, who have all performed in countless improv companies across the country, made each of their characters distinct with terrific character voices, most of which involved shoddy Scottish accents but worked perfectly for this evening of madcap zaniness.

The cast, which included Larry Coen, co-author of last year's Kristin Chenoweth vehicle Epic Proportions, is first rate. With more improv experience than any troupe in Boston, these experts execute hilarious song lyrics on the spot with full choreography to boot.

The only problem with Braveheart! The Musical! is that no one will ever see it again as the cast performs a brand-new musical at every performance. Even though the run of Musical! The Musical! is now complete, don't fret, the troupe returns at least once every season to bring us more world premiere musicals that should not be missed.

-- Ryan DeFoe

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