MUSICAL OF MUSICALS: THE MUSICAL a smash hit at the Masquers

L-R: Craig Eychner, Shauna Shoptaw, Ted V. Bigornia, and Sophia Rose Morris retell the classic “I can’t pay the rent” story several ways in the Masquers Playhouse production of “The Musical of Musicals” by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart. Arthur Atlas directs the parody of a variety of notable Broadway musical styles, and Kris Bell choreographs the comic favorite, which plays in Pt. Richmond June 3 through July 9, 2011. Reservations online at or by calling 510-232-4031 MASQUERS PHOTO by JERRY TELFER

MUSICAL OF MUSICALS: THE MUSICAL! By Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart; directed by Arthur Atlas, musical direction by Ted Bigornia and Pat King. Masquers Playhouse, Point Richmond. The playhouse is located off of Highway 580 (Richmond Parkway exit) at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond across from the Hotel Mac. or by calling (510) 232-4031 Through July 9, 2011

MUSICAL OF MUSICALS: THE MUSICAL a smash hit at the Masquers

There are some shows aimed at theatre aficionados and Musical of Musicals: The Musical is one of those shows. If are “one of those” theatre buffs, this show is an absolute must. If you are not it still is a must since it is hilarious, clever, with enough well known recognizable musical references for all. Surely you are familiar with Rogers and Hammerstein (R &H), Jerry Herman, and Kander & Ebb and maybe less so as I with Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Friday night audience gave it a spontaneous standing ovation.

Musical of Musicals is a spoof of all contemporary musicals and Rockwell’s ability to imitate the style of Rogers’ music to the hysterical legionary wit of Bogart’s lyrics is astounding. The show is comprised of five mini musicals each with the premise the heroine can’t pay the rent and a dastardly character is going to have his way. Horrors! The opening brief prolog is a tableau of just such a melodrama before the energetic cast of four swings to action with the mini musical Corn. Picture a strapping good looking Big Willy (Craig Eychner) bursting on stage to sing the praise of “Corn” and “I’m in love with a wonderful hoe.” On stage prances June (Sophia Morris) and Willy assures her the reason he wants to marry her is “just because you’re, June, June, June.” June sings “don’t throw OKs at me” and turns to Mother Abby who advises “you need to ford every stream until your dreams come true.” Stream? If you say so mother Abby (Shauna Shoptaw). When mean Jidder (Ted V. Bigornia) the owner of ranch demands his rent, June is forced to marry him but is saved by “Daylight Savings Time.” Don’t ask it would spoil your fun.

Now that you have the gist of the show, the fabulous, energetic group with Mark Ferreira on the piano take on Stephen Sondheim and our hapless troupe are living a high-rise condo called The Woods that is just right for the ensemble to sing “Welcome to the Woods.” Oh, I forgot to tell you that the all four stars of the show have to double in the ensemble as Cowman, Neurotic New Yorker, Roller Skater, Older Argentinean etc. etc. They switch with alacrity and plausibility . . . well sort off. It is true that “A funny thing happened on the way to decorum” with (shades of Sweeney Todd) crazy artist Jitter rationalizes “She will be dead and I’ll get ahead!” Ted Begonia gets off a zinger when he runs into a lyric problem, "Roses are red, violets are blue, some lyrics rhyme, some don't."

To close out act one, our daring troupers take on Jerry Herman parody called Dear Abby, in which Mame, Hello Dolly and La Cage aux Folles take their lumps. All the mini shows are great but this one is my favorite even though they sing “I can't sing or dance, but I'm the star of the show!" With operatic voiced Shauna Shoptaw in the take offs on Mame (“take my advice and live”) and Dolly (“put on enough rouge and you’re one of the girls”) that leads into a pastiche of La Cage. Then there is memorable “Show Tune” duet by Craig Eychner and Sophia Morris. Throughout the first act musical Director Ted Begornia who most often is cast in the role of the bad guy has a great stage presence and voice that belies his dastardly roles.

The buzz at intermission was highly complementary with everyone anxious to return for act two that starts with Andrew Lloyd Weber in the sights of our intrepid performers suggesting he is “short on content, large on attitude” and “everything I do is a big production.” Maybe so, but we get to see parts of Phantom of the Opera (“watch out for the chandelier”), Evita (“I’m tired of singing everything”) Cats and Starlight Express on roller skates.

The final mini show is a humdinger because they take pot shots at Kander and Ebb (“Drink your wine because life is a cabaret, but please no more Minelli”), Chicago (They’ll never hang you if you don’t pay the rentand “sell your body and roll an easy mark and if you sell it, you still got it.”). Begornia gets his best chance shine in this mini musical and he nails his roles with his great singing voice and stage awareness.

For a finale our exhausted quartet has plenty of energy to bring out A Chorus Line to send the audience out of their seats with thunderous applause. Running time less than 2 hours with intermission.

For the record: The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! first opened in Manhattan on December 16, 2003 as part of the York Theatre’s subscription series, for a limited run through January 25, 2004. The show garnered rave reviews and was nominated for five 2004 Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical and the 2004 Lucille Lortcl Award for Outstanding Musical. The New York Times wrote. “The Musical of Musicals - The Musical! has real wit, real charm. It’s great fun!” The demand for tickets was so great that the York re-configured its 2004 season, and re-opened the show on May 24, 2004, running through October 2, 2004. It transferred to Off-Broadway’s Dodger Stages produced by York Theatre Company, Melanie Herman, W. David McCoy and James Morgan, on February 2, 2005, and received a nomination for a 2005 Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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