BWW Reviews: Off-Broadway’s THE FARTISTE Will Blow You Away
What do you get when you combine a farting performer, a sex-crazed theatre director, and a bunch of scantily-clad can-can dancers? Not only a story that's true to life, but one that's actually quite compelling.
You'll be blown away by The Fartiste, a smart and ambitious musical about a farting Moulin Rouge performer in the 1890's ("not the 1990's MC Hammer days," as Nick Wyman's hilarious "Aristide" puts it). With outstanding book by Charlie Schulman and brilliant music and lyrics by Michael Roberts, this 2006 NYC International Fringe Festival Award-Winning outrageous new musical not only manages to successfully put the word "art" back into "fart," but it does so in an unusually poignant way.
This is a true story of Joseph Pujol, who, at a young age, discovered his strange talent of holding water in his anus while submerged at sea, then projecting it out at will with great force. Later, he ripened his talent by expelling odorless air, and included various sounds, impressions, vocals, and musical instruments. Although a baker by trade at the age of 13, Pujol took his "musical anus" to the Moulin Rouge where Charles Ziedler (played wittingly by Herndon Lackey) immediately hired him to headline the theatre, shouting, "I've hired plenty of assholes who can sing, but this will be my first singing asshole!"
Success was imminent as Pujol entertained guests by his amazing impressions, audience sing-alongs and candle blow-outs. Eventually, when Pujol decides to broaden his art and write an orchestral opus (Concerto for Wind), his act flops and he eventually retires back to the bakery business, where his wife says assuringly, "The audience may be fickle about your derriere, but they will always buy baguettes."
As daring and ingenious as the script is, the cast remains the anchor of talent to which creativity can truly rise. Kevin Kraft as "Joseph Pujol" plays a convincing, lovable, and relatable average man with a remarkable talent. His naivety of life, passion for his art, and loyalty to his family lends itself to an extremely likable character who "masters an art form for which there were no masters."
Analisa Leaming ("Elizabeth Pujol"/"Mome Fromage") is wonderful as the devoted wife of Joseph Pujol. She is poised, has a beautiful soprano, and always remains by her husband's side, realizing that the man she loves "works in a crouching position."
Lindsay Roginski plays the sexy Moulin Rouge performer with amazing stage presence and impeccable vocals. Her solo, "More," showcases both her vocal talent as well as her sultry style. Rachel Kopf, as Pujol's mother, demonstrates her tender, expressive tone in the delicate, self-discovering ballad, "Being You."
The standout of the show, Nick Wyman, is brilliant in his portrayal of the sex-crazed "Aristide Bruant." A real theatre veteran, Wyman's confidence and charisma carry the show's theme and move it along proportionately. His duet with Herndon Lackey, "We Live for Art," is a hilarious highlight, showcasing both the artistic as well as sexy nature of show business.
The mastermind behind the musical vocals and sound effects is Steven Scott, whose genius is evident from the very first blow. He continues to captivate the audience with his amazing vocal talents.
The Fartiste manages to add depth to what could have easily been a show fraught with cliches and double-entendres. With its compelling story, amazing talent, and catchy songs, you will not be disappointed in this fresh, delightful musical which proves that flatulence is more than just passing gas...it's about "magical gas."
Side note: With some of the lyrics and dancing a little risque, I wouldn't recommend it for the very young audience.
Performance schedule is as follows: Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm. A French buffet will be served with doors opening one hour prior to the performances for lunch/dinner. Tickets are priced at $79.00 (which includes dinner) and $65.00 for show only.
Tickets are available by phone at (212) 947-9300 from 10 am to 6 pm and through www.thefartiste.com or www.entertainmentevents.com
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg