“The Musical of Musicals: The Musical” is a musical parody of just about every musical you have ever seen or heard.
Written by Joanne Bogart (lyrics) and Eric Rockwell (music), each of the five scenes pays homage to a different musical composer or team and style: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and John Kander and Fred Ebb. It’s all done with a minimum of props and an ensemble of four.
Musical director Paul Deiss accompanies the cast and deftly navigates through the various musical styles from the vantage point of his onstage piano. The simple, bright set is occasionally enhanced with an abundance of theatrical smoke and explosions of confetti, thanks to lights, scenic design and technical direction by Joe Doran, Tom Width and Jason “Blue” Herbert, respectively.
Each mini-musical is populated by a young woman in financial distress of unknown origin (Paige Reisenfeld as June); a villainous landlord who, perhaps not unreasonably, demands his rent money (David Atkins as Jitter); a handsome hero who cannot quite commit to a relationship but nonetheless offers to pay the rent (Derrick Jaques as Big Willy); and a wise older woman who offers advice (Caroline Whisnant as Abby). This enthusiastic quartet not only does justice to the musical theater genre, but all four are also strong singers who are valiantly impervious to fatigue.
Once you recognize the stereotypically classic melodramatic lines — “You must pay the rent,” spoken by the leering villain and “But I can’t pay the rent,” uttered by the beautiful damsel in distress — you have the gist of the production, and there is no need to stress any further over the plot. Yep, that’s pretty much it, along with the line “Thank you, Abby, that was very helpful” each time the matronly figure offers up…