BWW Review: Ammo Theatre's FAIRY TALE THEATRE 18 & OVER: THE MUSICAL is Comedy with a Kick
Ammunition Theatre Company ventures into the wacky world of fractured fairy tales for its latest production, FAIRY TALE THEATRE 18 & OVER: THE MUSICAL. Written and narrated by Michael J. Feldman, with original songs by Jason Currie, the show consists of four sketch comedy skits performed in 90 minutes, no intermission, by a group of energetic actors with mostly stand-up and television backgrounds.
Singing ability is mixed but the performances are really a showcase for Feldman's episodic writing and the quirky characters he's created. What sets them apart from other fairy tale parodies is the playful way he addresses contemporary issues like gender stereotypes, unrequited love, and our obsession with celebrities. Annie McVey, who has directed all of Feldman's previous installments of FAIRY TALE THEATRE, once again brings her eye for keeping it real to this current iteration of the series.
Two of the best sketches are The Tale of Lucky the Service Dog and The Tale of the Lonely Star. In the former, Feldman transfers the polarizing topic of white privilege to dogs, specifically to those who enjoy "vest privilege" as service dogs and to those who do not. By recreating the prejudices and lack of consideration found in humans, but applying them to our canine friends, he is able to deliver the message that, "Just being aware of your privilege isn't good enough," in a story that audiences can laugh at but still get the point.
In the latter, a lonely star in the sky looks to connect with others to feel less alone. He encounters many groups during his search, each with its own requirements for being part of the gang. In one, all you have to do is "accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior." In another, the emphasis is on being physically fit. In yet another, it's all about the dysfunctional family unit, and Feldman - quite literally - blows it apart. "Can't we all just believe what we want to believe and get along with each other," he asks as the journey becomes more complicated than he ever thought it could be.
This piece also skewers social media and how living our lives through a series of selfies and carefully curated Instagram posts does everything but make a real connection. Think of it as a kind of existential comedy with a goofy cosmic edge, goofy being the operative word.
Stephen Rowan's costumes are a dream, created on what can only have been a shoestring budget. It's hard to pick a favorite from among the silliness but some of the standouts include Greg Worswick's Unicorn garb (perfect for Greg's way-out-of-left-field performance), Tina Huang as a melting glacier, all of the dogs, and Michael Feldman's Blue Star. It's also uncanny how dressing up Sheila Carrasco as a Silent P or a fish highlights how much she resembles Troubie company member Beth Kennedy. They even make the same crazy faces. Somebody please write the story that puts them in the same show together. Please. It would be comedy gold.
All of the cast members take their turn in the spotlight and music theatre lovers will be happy to hear references to the Stephens - Sondheim and Schwartz - in a couple of numbers. It's a lively 90 minutes with an appealing group of funsters who go for it every time they step onstage. More than anything, FAIRY TALE THEATRE is an escape. And that's something we all need now and again, along with a reminder to check our assumptions at the door and get over ourselves.
FAIRY TALE THEATRE 18 & OVER: THE MUSICAL
September 14 - October 7, 2018
Ammunition Theatre Company at The Pico
10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tickets and info: (323) 628-1622 or AmmunitionTheatre.com
Photo Credit: Jeff Lorch