Review Roundup: Dallas Theatre Center's MOONSHINE: THAT HEE HAW MUSICAL!
Dallas Theater Center's World Premiere engagement of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, a new musical comedy lovingly (and loosely) inspired by the classic TV series, began performances at Dallas Theater Center on September 2, 2015, and officially opened Friday, September 18, 2015. Performances run through October 11, 2015.
The World Premiere cast of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical features Justin Guarini as Gordy, Rose Hemingwayas Misty Mae, Ken Clark as Bucky Jr., Ryah Nixon as Lulu, Kevin Cahoon as Jr. Jr. and PJ Benjamin as Grandpa, with an ensemble that includes Mackenzie Bell, John Campione, Travis Kirk Coombs, Julie Johnson, Katherine McMillian, Harris Milgrim, Rob Morrison, Adam Perry, Aaron Ramey, and Jonalyn Saxer.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Nancy Churnin, Dallas News: Clark and Guarini offer a nice study in contrasts between country and city folk, accentuated by the types of songs they sing. Guarini's Gordy belts out "Misty," a pop Barry Manilow-like number, complete with disco ball lights whirling on the walls. Clark, strumming a guitar, croons a gentle country ballad, "Okay," about being all right when his heart is clearly broken, that could be a stand-alone hit.
Joe Leydon, Variety: Clark and McAnally provide an uneven but largely enjoyable mix of ballads, duets and country-flavored show tunes, along with a tongue-in-cheeky love song - "Misty," repeatedly sung by the game Guarini (an "American Idol" alumnus), and best described as resembling an '80s-style Top 40 chart-topper as reconstituted by Justin Timberlake. On the other hand, there is "Shucked," an Act I curtain-closer that will move some members of the audience to howling laughter, and make others shift uncomfortably in their seats, with nonstop naughty allusions to a certain four-letter word.
Kyle West, BroadwayWorld.com: The show is packed with impeccable performances, but Rose Hemingway's performance as Misty Mae is star-making. Hemingway, who recently starred opposite Daniel Radcliff (and later Darren Criss, followed by Nick Jonas) in Broadway's HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, has the beautiful girl-next-door looks, a stunning voice, and some kick-ass comedic chops to boot. Her role demands the skill to make the audience laugh, cry...and then laugh until you cry - and Hemingway works every moment with utter perfection. Even when she is simply reacting to her scene partners, her subtext displays as much power as the strongest notes from her best ballads.
Sherri Tilley, The Flashlist: Ryah Nixon is sheer perfection as Misty Mae's well-endowed gun-totin' cousin Lulu who peddles her jugs (of moonshine, that is) to the local menfolk while simultaneously hoping to settle down with a sensitive soul. When Misty Mae returns to the tightly-knit community with her highfalutin new beau in tow, Lulu teams up to protect the honor of Misty Mae's now-rekindled childhood love interest Bucky Jr., adeptly played by actor Ken Clark who could just as easily double as a guitar-slingin' country music heartthrob. Bucky Jr.'s brother, Jr. Jr., is hilariously portrayed by veteran Broadway actor Kevin Cahoon, whose poetic rapping and witty punch lines kept the audience in stitches all evening long and whose good friend Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family was among close pals attending on opening night to watch him perform.
Lauren Smart, Dallas Observer: Nearly every line written by Robert Horn is a punchline, and the cast tackles the endless jokes with strong comedic timing, earning laughs for lines that you're likely to see on a bumper sticker at a Cracker Barrel. If ever you can see a director's hand in a show it's Gary Griffin's, who deftly brings the heart, soul and belly laughs to the front of the show. The play's narrators played by Aaron Ramey and Rob Morrison could take their act on a comedy circuit, and by the second hour of the show, anytime Kevin Cahoon's character, Jr. Jr. walked onstage, the audience cleared their throats anticipating the laughter. Let no one tell you otherwise, the production of Moonshine onstage at DTC is a laugh riot.
Mark Lowry, DFW.com: Moonshine is pur-dee fun. The nonstop punchlines induce unmistakable laughter, even if some of it is with hand on forehead. And it's certainly better put together than some of the more ambitious musicals DTC has premiered in recent years. The energetic choreography is spectacular.
Cindy Watts, The Tennessean: I thought the writing was fantastic. I loved the dancing. This musical was so fun and so exciting with a lot of funny elements.
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