The Day The World Went QUEER!
One cannot take too seriously a play that begins with the warning cry "The homos are coming! The homos are coming!" The Day The World Went QUEER!, a simply fabulous menage of '50's science fiction and modern politics, starts silly and gets sillier, wrapping its rather bitter pill of a social statement in plenty of sweet satirical candy. It would be ingenious enough to reimagine Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a commentary on right-wing homophobia, but it's a stroke of pure brilliance on the part of the creators that they made such a reinvention a musical.
And a dang good musical, at that. Campy, witty, and quite enjoyable, The Day The World Went QUEER! mocks the right-wing perception of overly-accepting liberals by jokingly comparing said liberals to the doomed townspeople of classic '50's sci-fi camp classics. After the kindhearted people of Sanctityville, USA, pass a law allowing gay marriage, the menfolk of the town suddenly all begin wearing backless chaps while the women cut their hair and wear *gasp* pants. Only sweethearts Susie and Bill, who have no other goal beyond marriage, can save the sanctity of Sanctityville by convincing the newly liberated residents of the joys of conservatism.
With a snappy and deliciously un-PC book by Jonathan Matthew Gilbert, catchy and clever music by Lavell V. Blackwell, and witty lyrics by Joshua H. Cohen, The Day the World Went QUEER! keeps its tongue firmly in cheek (though I won't say which cheeks, or whose) as it lovingly mocks both the left and right wings. The laughs come often and easily, and from all angles. Still, there is some surprisingly caustic social commentary throughout that occasionally threatens to overwhelm the satire (cries of "Hang the faggots," no matter how satirically intended, are just not funny. Ever.) While Act One lays the brilliant tracks, the play seems to derail somewhat in Act Two, and does not completely live up to its full potential. Fortunately, some minor polishing and rewriting could easily smooth out the rough edges and keep the show moving at an even pace.
And no matter what minor problems the show might have, the delightful cast make every scene a joy by their mere presence, even rising above the weaker scenes with pure energy and talent. As the innocent Bill, Douglas Ullman, Jr. shows off his All-American-Boy good looks and sings with a lovely tenor. As his sugar-sweet girlfriend Susie, Marisa Michelson is adorably charming while convincingly playing the naVf. Playing both Bill's lovestruck little brother and one of the nefarious queens who plot to overrun Sanctityville, Eric Moore displays a strong range both as a comic villain and a gentle romantic. Jennifer Dorr White is dryly hilarious as the happy housewife who evolves from June Cleaver to a lesbian Roseanne Connor before our eyes. Rachel Clark is adorable as the mayor's increasingly hippie wife, but somewhat less effective as a Colonel determined to kill all gays, perhaps because the latter role gives her less comic meat to chew on. Both Richard Todd Adams and Jonathan Hack pull triple duty as both malicious gay invaders and as various townspeople. Adams is at his comic best as Bill's uptight father who discovers a passion for black leather, while Hack plays the town's mayor with an appropriate stiffness, but is warm and winsome as a young boy finding his first love.
This love-story subplot adds an emotional side to the story that nicely balances the satire. Whereas the townspeople's sudden conversion is a device for humor that eventually becomes a bit too dark for its own good, the growing love between the two boys is treated with respect a welcome drop of honey in the satiric vinegar.