BWW Reviews: THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS, THE MUSICAL! Delights Musical Fans at the Panasonic Theatre
Up until now, theatre audiences have been limited to see a maximum of two shows in a day (if you can make it out to the theatre on matinee day.) Under the direction of Vinetta Strombergs, the cast of the Toronto production of The Musical of Musicals, the Musical! have made it possible for you to see five musicals all in one night!
The Musical of Musicals, The Musical! is a satirical love letter to musical theatre. Throughout the show, audiences can expect to see parodies of shows by some of the most successful theatre composers of all time - all focusing on the same plot, a girl named June who can't pay the rent.
The composers being spoofed are Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Kander & Ebb and Andrew Lloyd Webber. (The most devout theatre fans will recognize some Marvin Hamlisch in the finale, an unadvertised bonus!)
In each mini-musical, Mark Cassius plays the antagonist landlord (called Jitter) who demands the rent be paid. Cassius is superb, and remarkably brings to life characters like The Phantom (from The Phantom of the Opera), Sweeney Todd, and the MC from Cabaret. Cassius is able to switch personas faster than a flying squirrel, and even channels Carol Channing in imaginary drag.
Paula Wolfson is brilliant throughout the entire evening, and makes her standout appearances as "The Mother" Abby and Abigal Von Schtarr, the greatest star who ever lived (à la Sunset Boulevard.) Adrian Marchuk has the most versatile character, Willy, and plays everything from the full-voiced hero to the scrawny comedic relief.
Dana Jean Phoenix stars as protagonist June, who can't - but must pay the rent. Phoenix's performance is perfection, and she perfectly captures each style being performed. She warms hearts as a young farm girl in a Rodgers and Hammerstein parody, commands attention as Junita in the Andrew Lloyd Webber sequence, and oozes the essence of Fosse during the Kander and Ebb portion of the evening.
The score by Erick Rockwell is fresh and, yet oddly familar with melodies you will be humming as you leave the theatre. Joanne Boggart's lyrics are marvelous, and while moving the story forward provide pun after pun that will leave your ribs hurting long before the first mini-musical is over. Together Rockwell and Boggart created the book, and while the plot is incredibly simple it is presented in a way that makes the entire one hour and forty five minutes production feel like the time just flies.
For those not so familiar with the shows being parodied, the production will still delight and entertain - and is definitely worth seeing. Fans of musical theatre should run to the Panasonic Theatre to catch this hilarious production during it's limited engagement.
When and Where?
Playing now through January 5, 2014
Tickets are available at Mirvish.com.
Photo by Josie Di Luzio.