BWW Reviews: LOOPHOLES: A PAIN IN THE I.R.S. - Laughable Deductions to Claim
Loopholes: A Pain In The I.R.S./script & lyrics written by Stan Rich/lyrics co-written by Ronnie Jayne/directed by Kiff Scholl/ Hudson Backstage Theatre/thru May 17, 2015
World premiere of playwright Stan Rich's Loopholes: A Pain In The I.R.S. benefits from a very game cast of talented actors performing his fun, pun-galore, shtick-filled musical. The troupe's overall enthusiasm and commitment really pull off this 90-minute piece which possesses a very Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney, "Let's go to the barn and put on a show" vibe. With the assist from musical director Ronnie Jayne, Rich has re-written some clever lyrics to 30-plus existing tunes à la "Weird Al" Yankovic.
Basic plotline, spanning over 15 years, revolves around Rich's alter-ego Izzy Rich (charmingly played by Bruce Nozick) being audited by the I.R.S. and how he manages his life during those years. Izzy gets moral support in his dilemma from his adoring (unbeknownst to him) secretary Brenda (Julie Cardia, reminiscent of Carol Burnett) and his accountant Harry (the accomplished vaudevillian Perry Lambert). Brad Griffith commands as Howie, the I.R.S. boss. His conniving I.R.S. subordinates well limmed by Ryan Brady, Taji Coleman, Nora King and Camille Licate, each also convincingly playing multiple roles.
In an attempt to lift Izzy's spirits and demeanor, Harry suggests he see Dr. Marsha Mellow, a tax therapist. The charismatic Caryn Richman shines in her integral role as Izzy's life-changer (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha), with lovely vocals, nice comic timing, and nimble feet (as all the cast have) in Lindsay Martin's enjoyable choreography.
Stand-out scenes include Izzy's dream in which Pete Rose and Willie Nelson come to visit him. Brady nails his Pete Rose impersonation in this song-and-dance "Gambling Rose" to the tune of "Rambling Rose." Sporting pigtails and a headband, Griffith's hysterical in his twangy Willie Nelson-esque rendition of "On my Case Again" to the melody of "On the Road Again." In another of Izzy's nightmares, Griffith uses his basso voice as the Big Bad Wolf with King, Cardia, and Brady as, respectively, Pigs #1, #2, and #3. They perform the very funny "Who's Afraid of I.R.S." set to, of course, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" and "That's a Loophole" to the music of "That's Amore." King's and Cardia's piglet squealing's simply delightful!
As Judge Cleo, the judge hearing Izzy's appeal, King grabs her spotlight with "When Complaints Come Pouring In" set to "When the Saints Go Marching In." Lambert's strong pipes get exhibited in his hilarious "O So Judge Cleo" set to "O Solo Mio." Richman and Nozick sing very nice counterpoint in "I Keep Dreaming of the I.R.S." to the tune of "You're Just in Love (I Wonder Why)."
Director Kiff Scholl keeps the pace running smoothly with just enough time for the ba-da-bump after each punchline. Efficient set design by Charles Sleichter utilizes a rolling desk as the main piece of furniture with signage indicating the various offices simply changed by the rotating of the signs on a roll behind a rectangle hole in the wall.