BWW Reviews: THE MAX FACTOR FACTOR - A Frothy Farcical Mixture of Frivolity Features Some Fine Phenomenal Performances
The Max Factor Factor/book by Adrian Bewley/music by Joe Blodgett/lyrics by Chana Wise/directed by Michael A. Sheppard/The NoHo Arts Center/thru August 31, 2014
The Max Factor Factor boasts precision dancing and gorgeous harmonies amidst well-timed madcap shtick. This world premiere musical, co-produced by New Musicals Inc. and the Celebration Theatre, entertainingly depicts the zany tale of two leading men of the Silver Screen who fall in forbidden love in 1936 Hollywood.
With the arrival of newly-appointed censor madam of the "Legion of Rectitude," the closeted hunks' rivaling studios rally to protect their cash cows from being outed.
But, with a cast of scene-stealing performers, focus get frequently and easily pilfered from these two.
As the two beards, er, leading ladies to these actors; Jessica Howell and Jessica Snow Wilson both have their many, many moments to shine with some wonderful physical comedy and double takes. Both 'do' drunk hilariously well, especially in their second act number "Bad."
Stefan Rich; as the young, handsome, corn-fed wanna-be-star Johnny Strong; hits all the right notes of uproarious naivety and the right poses of preening biceps.
Jordan Kai Burnett, limning the niece of film director Fred (Kevin Michael Moran), gets to strut her hysterical moves in her attempts at seduction of rival film director Hank (a fine Kevin McIntyre). Will he or won't he succumb to her sexy wiles?
Alex Boling, Everjohn Feliciano, and Trevor Shor splendidly comprise the "Trio;" the harmonizing barbershop quartet (minus one), dancing perfectly in-sync as one unit in their variety of supporting, yet integral roles. Think the Pips behind Gladys Knight, or the auto-tunings of Britney. The Trio command centerstage in their rousing "The Underground Railroad."
Saving the best scene-stealer of the cast for last--the formidable Heather Olt as the Hollywood censor madam Cordelia Goodwife. Olt's pitch-perfect double takes and self-congratulatory posturing really get a showcase in the second act opener "The Brightest Star." Baby Boomers should recognize Olt channeling 1970's actress-comedian Eileen Brennan. (Millennials ask your elders who she is.) Olt's line deliveries and physical traits should guarantee she nails any casting calls for "a Eileen Brennan type."
Palmer Davis' witty, clever choreography receives wonderfully clean execution from the talented, obviously well-rehearsed, triple-threat cast in all the ensemble numbers, especially "The Brightest Star" and tango-infused "Can't Wait."
Michael A. Shepperd ably directs, with the second act purposely more even paced and energetic than the first. Always much preferred than having the reverse.
Eric McCann on bass with Brian Cannady on drums, led by pianist/musical director Bryan Blaskie smoothly provides the appropriate musical stylings of the evening.
Scenic designer Carlo Maghirang makes full efficient use of the NoHo Arts Center stage with his utilitarian two-story set, easily morphing from the main Max Factor make-up room to various offices, hotel rendezvous, and ledges for suicidal purposes.
Enough bright elements in The Max Factor Factor to make a light two hours of pleasant theatre.