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BWW Review: Aurora Fox's TOMFOOLERY isn't a Foolish Choice

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Quarantine musical implements masks, distancing

BWW Review: Aurora Fox's TOMFOOLERY isn't a Foolish Choice

You might not be ready to go back to indoor live theatre - but if you are, the Aurora Fox is ready for you.

And its current offering is a short musical about quarantine, which, hey...at least it's topical. Tomfoolery isn't a new musical, though. The quick 4-person show (premiering in the '80s) includes a selection of songs from satirical songwriter/mathematician Tom Lehrer, who saw some mid-century fame for his smartly crafted silly songs that stood out from the crowd at the time.

While it's not totally clear how much director Kenny Moten twisted the original script to make it fit into our current quarantined lifestyle, the result was a wonderful concoction of what we've all been experiencing to some extent for the majority of 2020.

The cast features a college student (Mosés Brown, a nurse (Corey Exline), a bookworm (Tim Howard) and a writer (Valerie Igoe) as they try to make the best of their daily lives while stuck in quarantine. Also, major kudos to music director Trent Hines, who provides the singular piano accompaniment for the production.

There's no real plot here, but the hour-ish long show is easy to follow. It starts strong with a brilliant song about Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, then goes through numbers about the periodic table and the long-forgotten National Brotherhood Week, eventually taking a risqué turn with smut and masochism, as you do.

If you know Lehrer's work, you'll surely enjoy this dive into his catalogue. I didn't really (aside from the periodic elements song, thanks 11th grade chemistry), but I left with a fun new knowledge of what songwriters could actually pen 50+ years ago, and that was refreshing.

The cast had clearly been holding a lot in since the shutdown, as their performances were all lively and burst with the kind of theatrical expression I'd been missing since my last theatrical venture. I was honestly a little jealous.

The seats are socially distanced, masks are required at all times, and I felt safer than I do in any restaurant. Sure, it's not the fully orchestrated production of Les Mis we all can't wait to experience (safely) again, but Tomfoolery was a charming reminder of what we've all been missing so much. If you're itching for that live experience again, I'd say this one will more than tide you over.

Tomfoolery: The Words and Music of Tom Lehrer continues through October 11 at the Aurora Fox on East Colfax. Tickets available at aurorafox.org.


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From This Author Chris Arneson