BWW Review: THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF TROOP BEVERLY HILLS - A Non-Stop, Two-Hours of HIGH-larity & Stunning Vocals
Executive Producer Kate Pazakis has assembled another Ri-Dic-U-lously talented troupe of singer/comedians to totally WOW their Rockwell audience in THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF TROOP BEVERLY HILLS. Using every available space in the Rockwell main room (and even some already seated ones), director Tye Blue smoothly maneuvers his vocally gifted cast through Pazakis and Ray Wetmore's cleverly written homage to the 1989 Shelly Long starrer Troop Beverly Hills. Pazakis and company have a talented knack for picking appropriate movie vehicles (The Devil Wears Prada, The Big Lebowski) and spoofing them, using covers of familiar pop tunes to cunningly advance the original plotlines. Part of the fun is recognizing the various songs you once loved on the radio.
Basis of Troop Beverly Hills centers on recently separated Beverly Hills housewife Phyllis Nefler attempting to find some purpose in her newly single life. Phyllis latches onto her teenage daughter Hannah's band of misfits. Phyllis figures to transform this group into a winning, confident Wilderness Girls of Beverly Hills. Power-hungry, control freak Velda Plendor, the head of all the regional Wilderness Troops, defiantly stands in the way of Phyllis' quest. Velda even sends in her right hand gal Annie Herman to infiltrate and spy on Phyllis' girls.
Drew Droege totally embodies his drag role of Velda creating an over-the-top uber-villainess.
Very nice balancing of Droege's head-on attacks with Marla Mindelle's Phyllis' more submissive, befuddled reactions in their confrontation scenes.
Mindelle captivatingly opens the show with Madonna's "Material Girl." Mindelle sings the bejesus out of all her songs!
Paula Adul's "Cold Hearted Snake/Straight Up" receives a sizzling bump and grind interpretation from Mindelle, her soon-to-be-ex husband Freddie (ever so winningly played, sung and danced by Constantine Rousouli) and their maid Rosa (an hysterical Lana McKissack).
Who knew Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" required such amazing high vocal ranges? The Wilderness Girls of Beverly Hills nails this show-stopping number as deliciously sung by McKissack, Gwen Hollander, Anne Letscher, Thomasina Gross and Lindsay Heather Pearce.
Letscher's lisping divorce court judge hilariously leads into one of the many highlights of THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF TROOP BEVERLY HILLS - Mindelle and Rousouli's duet on Whitney Houston's hit "I Will Always Love You." Mindelle's 'faux-gospel' version completely mesmerizes with Mindelle, and Rousouli, hitting every 'real' note dead-on. (Think of great clowns and their pratfalls. They have to know how to fall technically 'right' to fall technically 'wrong.') Mindelle and Rousouli sing so, so right!
Heart's "Alone" features a stunning comic duet from Pearce and Hollander.
Gross gets her moment to shine in her "Cookie Time" as Tina Turner.
Katherine Tokarz uproariously underplays Velda's right hand gal Annie Herman. Tokarz grabs centerstage with her powerful solo of the reprise of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You." (Only it's 'f-you,' instead of 'forget you.') Tokarz' also the choreographic genius behind the very fun dancing from all, especially in "Flashdance/Physical," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough/Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," and the synchronized drill team steppings in "We're the Girls from Beverly Hills."
The spot-on band, the solid backbone of the whole performance, provides incredible musical back-up and pulsing musical energy throughout, while never overpowering the vocals. Deserved shared kudos to musical director Gregory Nabours on piano; Blake Estrada on bass, Emily Rosenfield on guitar and Gregory Sadler on drums.
If you want to have your hands hurt from clapping too hard, your toes tired from tapping along, and your eyes tearing from laughing so much; check out THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF TROOP BEVERLY HILLS. So worth it!