BWW Review: R.R.R.E.D. Warns of Genetic Extinction of Redheads

There are times in musical theatre when a talented cast performing their hearts out can make questionable material not only endurable, but even somewhat enjoyable. Sadly, this is not the case with R.R.R.E.D., which, while given a game try by a quartet of enthusiastic belters displaying ample showbiz pizzazz, begins with a potentially interesting idea and never goes anywhere with it.

BWW Review: R.R.R.E.D. Warns of Genetic Extinction of Redheads
Matt Loehr and Katie Thompson
(Photo: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

Billed as "a secret musical," R.R.R.E.D. takes its cue from an infamous, immediately discredited report that warned of the genetic extinction of red hair by the year 2100.

In R.R.R.E.D., that report is treated as gospel truth, and the premise of the 80 minute production is that the audience is attending a secret meeting of the Real Redheaded Revolutionary Evolutionary Defiance. On the surface it's a sort of support group/activist instructional organization, but eventually the sales pitch for membership makes it clear that it's more of a pyramid scam.

Everyone is handed a nametag upon entering. Mine was already filled in with the name Angela Lansbury. My guest was Judy Garland. Why this is done is never explained.

"We ask, for your own safety, that you keep your wigs and your merkins on throughout the rest of the evening," advises our co-host, Victoria, pushing the premise that everyone in the audience is an undercover redhead.

The authoritative Victoria is played by Katie Thompson, who penned the score and co-authored the book with Adam Jackman and Patrick Livingston. She spends much of the show playing straight for her flashy sidekick GJ (Matt Loehr, bubbling over with spirit).

The primary theme of the meeting, it seems, is that redheads must start procreating frequently and exclusively with other redheads in order to preserve the species, a point that's reinforced in a song that encourages listeners to deceive their partners by poking pinholes in condoms and replacing birth control pills with Tic Tacs.

Another song, about not being picky about which redhead you procreate with, offers the lyric, "Don't really care you're a stranger / Have STDs, I love danger."

Then there's the obligatory, and aggressively unfunny anti-blonde song, advising, "They drink too much and most are sluts anyway."

BWW Review: R.R.R.E.D. Warns of Genetic Extinction of Redheads
Marissa Rosen
(Photo: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

Marissa Rosen plays Stephanie Hicks, an enthused member anxious to tell her story of how R.R.R.E.D. helped her go from a socially awkward high school student ("They called me 'Never Been Licked' Hicks.") to a confident woman who goes out every night in hopes to "bring forth another of God's redheads through the crooked path of my uterus."

"I'm not pregnant, I'm just fat," she sings. "It took forty bucks to be sure of that."

Another member, Craig (Kevin Zak) testifies to being gay, but Victoria encourages him to find women to procreate with anyway. There's also a special guest spot testimonial, played at each performance by a different member of the theatre community.

Director Andy Sandberg's staging completely eschews any hint of subtlety and choreographer Shea Sullivan's work is minimal. Music director Rodney Bush is stationed upstage, playing keyboard.

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From This Author Michael Dale

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