Review Roundup: AMERICA'S BEST OUTCAST TOY At Pride Films & Plays
AMERICA'S BEST OUTCAST TOY by Cindy O'Connor and Larry Todd Cousineau, opened on December 3. Donterrio Johnson directs musical by the creators of ALL THAT HE WAS and FLIES!, to play through January 12, 2020.
AMERICA'S BEST OUTCAST TOY - AN ODDBALL HOLIDAY REALITY MUSICAL, penned by composer Cindy O'Connor and bookwriter/lyricist Larry Todd Cousineau imagines what later happened to some outcast toys rescued by a certain famous reindeer. After becoming huge celebrities in America, they are re-united to compete in a series of challenges where they must sing, model, design fashion, outwit/outplay/outlast and bake cakes, and of course, dance for their lives, all to prove that they are AMERICA'S BEST or FAVORITE, or LEAST OBJECTIONABLE, or something! The audience will actually determine the results with their votes, meaning every night can be a whole new show!
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Misha Davenport, BroadwayWorld: O'Connor and Cousineau are fighting a losing battle against the baggage audiences members familiar with the original holiday classic come in with. We are all too aware the characters' previous struggles and those painful life lessons learned to just accept that any of them are willing to forgo a sense of family for some cold hard cash, some cheap, dime store baubles and another 15 minutes of fame. And while the cynic in me says there is probably a fair amount of truth to the notion that many among us would quickly abandoned friends and family for fame, fortune or gold, my inner queer child just doesn't want to hear anything of it. At least not during the holidays.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: Part of the problem is neither Cousineau nor the director, Donterrio Johnson, have decided on clear rules: Are we in the present or in some retro world of TV specials? And at what genre, exactly, are we poking fun? In the absence of that clarity, Cousineau, whose lyrics can be inordinately clever, simply throws everything against the wall (drag shows, reality shows, variety shows, competitive action shows, whatever) and hopes something will stick. Add in some homage to the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the Island of Misfit Toys and you have far more going on than this 90-minute show's structure can actually sustain. Everyone here has talent. They just are working on over-plowed land.
Lawrence Bommer, Stage and Cinema: Your enjoyment of this warm-hearted and well-intentioned trifle will hinge on how much novelty you can find in a concept that practically writes itself. The creators' sympathies for life's underdogs is never in doubt, just the sharpness of their focus on the familiar. The most original elements - the dozen musical numbers, coached by Cody Michael Bradley - shake and bake the seemingly unavoidable clichés, and the performances sell these songs.