Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The show began in New York in 1996 and had a successful two-year run. I will admit that during some of the numbers I thought "that's where this belongsin 1996." Some of the humor feels dated (though much has been updated to the age of Trump, my favorite line being "I'm erecting something you can put your name on."), and the songs, with music by Dick Gallagher and lyrics by Mark Waldrop, are quite traditional in their structure. Moreover, while the message of equality and tolerance is well intentioned, with marriage equality the law of the land and America's sweetheart a lesbian, are songs like "Light in the Loafers," "Not All Man" or "Sam and Me" still timely?
And then I remember how, in the past year, attempts have been made to prevent transgender people from serving in the military, anti-LGBT adoption laws have been passed in several states, the current administration has chosen not to recognize Pride month and claims the Civil Rights Act doesn't apply to LGBT people, and I realizesadlythat When Pigs Fly is still relevant.
And still entertaining. The five performers in this productionDavid Bicha, J. Conrad Frank, Philippe Gosselin, Chris Plank, and Ryan Vásquezput every ounce of themselves into their roles, and their hard work pays off even when the material is a little dusty. They also benefit tremendously from the work done by the team of designers who created dozens upon dozens of costumes and wigs: Wes Crain, Keri Fitch, David Carver Ford, and Jorge R. Hernandez. It's one surprise after another, and from the playing cards to hoop skirt reveal to pastel pinstripes to the titular pig, they are capital F fabulous.
In the opening number, "When Pigs Fly," the lyrics lay out that a pig flying signals a magical time when ordinary rules don't apply and anything can happen. In this show, almost everything does, and when one of the characters asks, "Is all this frivolity called for?" I had to answer, if somewhat reluctantly, "absolutely!"
When Pigs Fly, through June 10, 2018, at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco CA. Performances are Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $35-$60, and can be purchased at NCTCSF.org or by calling 415-861-8972.