SHOPPING: THE MUSICAL worth the price

SHOPPING: THE MUSICAL by Morris Bobrow. AWAT Productions at The Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter Street (near Union Square) in San Francisco. Saturdays at 8 PM. Open ended run into its 7TH YEAR! 415) 713-6486 Email: Web: OPEN ENDED RUN.

When visiting San Francisco tourists are have a plethora of decisions deciding what to see and do in a limited number of days. The views are spectacular, the museums plentiful, dining a gourmet buffet of choices and multiple theatrical venues. They must shop around. Of those theatrical choices, Morris Bobrow’s Shopping: The Musical should be high on the list for a Saturday evening of fun. It is a clever, tuneful satirical revue extolling the humorous joys and pitfalls of breaking out the credit card (or even paying cash) and saying “I’m going shopping.”

No one should be as talented as Bobrow who wrote the music, lyrics and skits with a wicked (not really) sense of humor and satire. He has written and directed numerous musicals; including the long running recent travel revue Are We Almost There? and his latest hit Party of Two that plays on alternate dates. Add to that talent a fine quartet of singers/actors (Chris Dwyer, Sara Hauter, Kim Larsen[is a he], and Deborah Russo), a superb pianist (Angela Dywer) and quick, colorful costume changes and the 70 minutes (without intermission) just fly by. The show covers the gamut of our shopping experiences causing spontaneous chuckles if not outright laughter. With an opening number that rhymes Holy Grail with SALE in capital letters, what else would one expect?

Expect tongue-in-cheek rhyming lyrics such as clothing/fear and loathing, models/waddles, idea/Ikea, shopping spree/bankruptcy and an occasional naughty line “Who do I have to screw to get service around here.” This line in “"Department Store Blues" addressed to the non-helpful store personnel was appreciated by the entire audience. Much of the music is derivative, what one would expect for a revue, with styles including ballads, patter and a hint of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Although most of the 24 scenes are musical, the hit of the show is a slide-splitting skit of a checkout line at a supermarket as a customer delays the clerk with nonsensical but familiar banter like requesting specific change.

Everyone who sees the revue will identify with some aspect of shopping. There is even a song and dance production number as the full cast step out with Top Hats (sort of) and canes as “we shop just once a year at Costco” in the satirical "Shopping with Style." Beware of the ubiquitous “handling charges.” To the sellers “it’s like found money” and even better than “miscellaneous charges” for increasing profits. The “smug and sanctimonious” art dealers take their lumps as they “push Thomas Kinkaid.”

This is an ensemble piece and their enthusiasm is infectious as the work solo or as a group. Young Chris Dwyer has the most melodious voice and starts out the fun after the Holy Grail opening number as a concert pianist whose dreams are imploded into a job playing at Nordstroms. He is hilarious, without saying a word, standing in line behind “that” woman (Deborah Russo) in “Checking Out” as his ice cream melts finally extracting his revenge not to be revealed here. Kim Larsen demonstrates his versatility as the macho man in “Hardware Heaven” and then the awkward husband buying lingerie at Victoria’s Secret in "What Am I Doing Here?"

It is certain that the women in the audience appreciate “A Fit Fit” as Sara Hunter forages for jeans that really fit: "It’s all about the butt and not looking like a slut."

The musical leaves nothing sacred including Street Fairs, Computer buying, buying at the “Five and Dime” (a charming ballad), obsequious salesman in “Lamps” sung to an Andrew Lloyd Webber knock-off. It all leads to a rousing colorful finale with purchases in hand as they shuffle off stage.

Of Those theatrical choices, Morris Bobrow’s Shopping should be high on the list for a Saturday evening of fun. Go shopping!

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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