BWW Review: HARRY SQUATTER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY at Mosley Street Melodrama, Puns and Play on Words
What do Noah Webster and Aaron Peckham have in common? Some of you had to really think hard, but for the rest of us little known muggles we would instantly recognize the pair as linguists who are well versed on opposite spectrums of the English dictionary. Webster's Dictionary, written by Noah Webster in 1806, is filled with wonderful, diverse words and definitions of American vocabulary but Peckham in 1999 came up with what was eventually to be known as the urban dictionary, an online resource for American slang words which have infiltrated our own pop culture. In addition, another 90's vocabularic author known under the pseudonym J.K. Rowling is best known for her series based on that cute, loveable and lucky guy, Harry Potter. For Mosley Street Melodrama's current olio, Wichita writers Ryan Schafer and Molly Tully wrote a show most likely using these three resources to come up with a fresh, new Halloween show for the theatrical company called Harry Squatter and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.
If one were to look up the word 'squatter' in the Webster dictionary, you would see the definition as a person who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land. In the Harry Potter series, the protagonist or the boy who lived, occupied the cupboard under the stairs. With a clever play on words, Schafer and Tully replace 'Potter' with 'Squatter' to take on a whole new implication. Just Google the word 'squatter' in the urban dictionary by Peckham, and you'll find a meaning which may not even be allowed to be said in this review. Let's just say it deals with the luge and it is undeniably phallic. Now, you're really thinking. This is just a small example of the play on words throughout this writing duo team's effort to make the melodrama quite fun and fresh with new blood. And it is. Mix in Kyle Vespestad and you've really got a magical show. Starring Madi White (Harry Squatter), Jessica Curtiss (Hermoine), Sam Warner (Ron), Briley Meek (Luna Lovegood), Kyle Vespestad (Draco), and John Keckeisen (Carl/Other roles), Harry Squatter and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day runs now from September 13th to November 2nd every weekend followed by the Magical Mystery Tour Musical Comedy Revue at 234 N. Mosley.
Taking place during their collegiate years, all actors portray the iconic Harry Potter charismas well but with a twist, of course. For starters, Keckeisen plays various characters including Hagrid, Moaning Myrtle, Voldemort and Dumbledore with ease. His Gilderoy Lockhart is quite fun having short term memory ensuing hilarity and comedy along with another little-known wizard Jeffrey Dahmer. Curtis, on the other hand, acts as a more mature Hermione, now bequeathed to Ron. She adds a modern play on words with phrases such as 'Griffinwhores,' 'vape pens,' and the societal mishap: crocs. Opposite Curtis enters Warner. Warner is a bit of a stoner and party animal version of Ron Weasley, allowing Warner to introduce youthful drinking games to the audience such as 'flip-cup' along with pick-up lines toward Hermione. Though the jokes were great for my millennial generation, they may have been too progressive for regular melodrama goers, but to that I say, "Oh well." As the vamp, Briley Meek had no trouble there with her petite, sultry figure. She gets to make puns on the spell 'Wingardium Leviosa' for a simpler spell named after an adult morning beverage. Vespestad plays Draco with a definite but obvious secret in his cupboard which is only itching to come out. He gets another unique spell dealing with defecation. Though there may have been small, rough transitions for opening night, I'm sure these will be eventually ironed out for what is sure to be a successful run. Pay close attention toward the end of the olio for a fun and hip video montage of 90's music aiding into a new style to the normal melodrama setup and trajectory, which the audience greatly appreciated, loved, and ultimately applauded. With wonderful stage pictures, the show is aesthetically pleasing as well and all worth seeing in person.
The second half was the musical comedy revue fittingly titled the Magical Mystery Tour opening with a strong intro 'Magic to Do' from the beloved Stephen Schwartz musical Pippin. You will also quickly notice the addition of wireless microphones being finally utilized allowing for sharper sound by stage manager Anna Rosell and clean choreography by Vespestad featuring canes and confetti. Vespestad gets a Schoolhouse Rock solo '3 is a Magic Number' sending the audience in a state of chorus. He also does magic tricks during the course of the song ultimately producing three attached undergarments. Later, he appears as mind freak magician Chris Angel with hilarious stupid human tricks such as trying to blow bubbles with a wand. Keckeisen enters interspersed stage left attempting to do magic tricks of his own only to funny failed attempts but later redeems himself with strong vocals for the song 'This Magic Moment' leading into a magical melody of a pleauthra of songs and dance. The funniest onstage moments, however, occur with Madi White and Briley Meek mimicking Siegfried and Roy to the Rocky theme song 'Eye of the Tiger' only to have Jessica Curtis mess everything up by mauling both actresses in a tiger onesie and then apologizing quickly for the offense.
For their winter holiday olio, Mosley Street Melodrama presents is Jack Frost Nipping at Your Nose or Christmas at the Firehouse. Written by Tom Frye be sure to book your tickets soon as Christmas shows sell out quickly for all local theatres in the city. Reservations can be made by calling 316-263-0222.
The cast of Mosley Street Melodrama's current production of Harry Squatter perform during the musical comedy revue by tossing confetti.