BWW CD REVIEW: Socially Relevant THE LAST SMOKER IN AMERICA (Original Cast Recording) Makes a Hysterical Social Commentary
With book and lyrics by Bill Russel, music by Peter Menick, and direction by Andy Sandberg, Off-Broadway's THE LAST SMOKER IN AMERICA is full of laughs and wit. The show's recording is representative of it's crude, witty, and laugh out loud nature. It features tracks one after the other that will have you chuckling but also tapping your toes.
THE LAST SMOKER IN AMERICA is a four character, one act show set in a world where smoking has recently been outlawed, and smoking penalties are growing and becoming increasingly stricter. The show centers on the family of Pam ( Farah Alvin), a woman who is having a particularly difficult time quitting smoking. The shows other three colourful characters include Pam's wannabe rock star husband Ernie (John Bolton), her videogame addicted son Jimmy (Jake Boyd) who is obsessed with rap music, and her anti-smoking advocate neighbor Phyllis (Natalie Venetia Belcon).
Although you may not expect it of a one-act musical comedy, the record manages to feature tracks of all music styling's. Between rock, ballads, and rap numbers, THE LAST SMOKER IN AMERICA's Off-Broadway cast recording produced by Yellow Sound Label tells the humorous story in a way that is clever, expllicit, and hysterical
The dialogue of the first track "How Can I Quit Now" sets the stage for the show. It provides a look into the life of Pam. The track gives insight on her life, struggles, addiction, and most importantly her dynamic with her family. The track features hysterical yet hard-hitting lyrics as it features the backstory and thoughts of all four characters. It encapsulates how Pam and her family are affected by her addiction and expresses Pam's dominating struggle of, quite literally, how does she quit now.
The recording boasts lighter tracks like the Gospel number "Let the Lord be Your Addiction" that will have you snapping your fingers. The lyrics will have you chuckling as the character suggests to "smoke Jesus" instead of cigarettes. Dramatized long notes and wails make this song one of the funniest and catchiest on the record.
"Hanging out in a Smokey Bar" provides a humorous and endearing look back on the world that used to be, and what Pam and Ernie's relationship once was. Alvin and Bolton's chemistry is evident in the harmony and timing. The duet is one of the more heartwarming of the recording.
The borderline offensive yet catchy rap "Gangsta" depicts a "colourful" conversation between Pam, Ernie, and their son Jimmy, who believes he is of another race.Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. This record truly channels all genres of music. As Jimmy, played by Jake Boyd, owns this track and executes it with the perfect amount of attitude and comedic timing. The track is unexpected, but hysterical and entertaining if anything.
Although "Gangsta" is amusingly rude, the track "I Wanna Call You" is definitely not meant for kids' ears. Ernie's potty mouth comes out in the shocking track that channels a rock sound while spewing every possible curse word one could imagine. It sounds untasteful, but it is probably the funniest song off of the recording, garunteed to have you rolling on the floor laughing and probably in shock of what you are hearing.
The Off-Broadway cast recording of THE LAST SMOKER IN AMERICA tells a humourously satirical story, as it delivers a strong message in a light and hilarious way. Although the tracks on the recording cannot really be removed from the context of the show, listeners will get the full experience of the show, as the tracks allow you to dive into the innovative, creative, and manic show.