Moonbox's "Musical of Musicals!": Parity of Parodies!

The Cast of "The Musical of Musicals the Musical!"

It’s all about the exclamation point in the title of Moonbox’s current production: “The Musical of Musicals The Musical!” Without that same exclamation point, there may never have been such memorable shows as “Oklahoma!” and “Hello, Dolly!” (or, say, “Oh! Calcutta!”). Now, with this production, we have a musical parody given birth on a parity with those other shows. Written by Joanne Bogart (Lyrics) and Eric Rockwell (Music), with the Book by both, it’s a hilariously on-target spoof of the musical theater genre. It opened off-Broadway in 2003 and ran almost 200 performances, this despite Bogart’s warning that there would be “no pastiche served during the show”. If you’re tired of your Scrooges being humbugged or your nuts cracked, this is a gas.

It’s actually five musicals with the same plot of the inability to pay the rent, each in the style of a different famous musical theater composer. Each features four characters: the Ingenue June (partially played by indisposed trouper Katie Clark at the opening, with singing by understudy Dani Apple), the Romantic Lead Big Willy (Peter Mill), the Matron Abby (Meredith Stypinski) and the Villainous Landlord Jitter (Phil Tayler). The musicals are “Corn!” (Rodgers and Hammerstein), “A Little Complex” (Sondheim), “Dear Abby” (Jerry Herman), “Aspects of Junita” (Andrew Lloyd Webber) and “Speakeasy” (Kander and Ebb). Clark rose to the occasion, while Apple deftly provided off-stage singing. Mill personified the smarmily fatuous leading man, and Stypinski was devastatingly, painfully perfect as the Famous-Name-Above-the-Title-and-Talent-Free Star. But it was, with this production (as was typically the case with the musicals it impaled), the villain who really stole the show. Tayler, who never fails to impress, was at the top of his form, singing, dancing and acting up a perfect storm, earning an exclamation point all his own: he was fabulous!

Also terrific were the energetic members of the Ensemble, consisting of Julianne Daly, Nicholas Davis, Matthew Kossack, Caroline Lellouche, Allison Russell, and Andrew Winans. As painstakingly directed and choreographed by Rachel Bertone, this was wondrous. With expert Music Direction and Accompaniment (on piano) by Dan Rodriguez, clever Set Design by Dale Conklin, dramatic Lighting Design by David Wilson, ingenious Costume Design by Marian Bertone, and excellent Sound Design by Dan Costello, it was everything a theatrical exclamation point could hope for. All one can say, properly precise pluperfect punctuation in place, is: Five musicals for the price of one! Tons of puns and fun! Five out of five exclamation points!!!!!


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