Blood a New Musical [by the mummers]
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
National Comedy Theater
347 west 36th street Between 8th and 9th Ave
I had an very interesting night at the theater, well first off I was flying solo my usual cohort Rhett was stuck in Key West at the airport trying to get back to NYC, but kept getting bumped or was doing bumps it's all a bit vague. So going stag I stopped into some random hotel bar three doors down from the theater had my usual drink, and waited. At 10 min to 8, I made my way to the theater and waited to see what the evening had in store for me. What I got to see was a new musical called Blood, it was being performed by the performance/comedy troupe called by the mummers.
According to their web site "By the Mummers is an ensemble of traditional artists interacting live and online....Our shows follow an interactive play within a play format, creating character driven original pieces inspired by History and Literature."
As I entered the theater I was greeted by up beat dance music and lots of people milling about some audience members, and most of the cast. The cast and house staff were running around setting the stage, putting up decorations, chatting with audience, and horsing around with each other. I had a feeling that I was walking into a Middle School or High School, and I say this without meaning they were unprofessional or anything. It was more a very relaxed environment and it reminded me of my group of Drama friends in High school and my current theater friends now. Aundre the technical director, I guess for a lack of a better term, greets the audience and begins to explain the group and the play, all the while there are light and sound cues still being worked on, a few actors interrupt him and ask about script and notes changes for the night. It is by this time realize the show has actually started, and we will see during the rest of the first act, this breaking of the fourth wall.
The Plot: I am going to take a direct quote from the leaflet for the show rather than try and give you all the details.
"Year after year, Birnham High School is a hot bed of supernatural bloodshed. At the start of each school calendar, the student body loads up on the big events before their teenage lives are snuffed out like candles. the morning of the welcome Back Prom finds the ambitious and sparkling upstart Mack rising amongst the hallway ranks of pretty girls, nerds, jocks, & studs. His girl, Maura is readily at his side, trying to escape the normalcy that is her life with best friend Jacques- who is anything but normal.... when Blood begins to spill, a prophecy revealing 'The Chosen One' shall determine that fates of the Brirnam Woodsmen and, most of all, Duff, the struggling dismissed cheerleader." The show had a lot of elements that draw from the Twilight Series, Degrassi High, Noises Off and a lot of Macbeth (oh sorry guys the Scottish Play) factor into the telling of this story.
Ok so with that out of the way, I have to say what a great night out it was, the show was lame, awesome and random. The music and the lyrics for the show had me in awe, I know it's not easy to write a musical and so I give the music team props for taking on 15 original songs. A few songs that stick with you, Puppy Love and Raising the Stakes, in the first act. Act two has Unleashed reprised, All the Way, Out, Out Brief Candle, and the Finale Children of the Night. The song that gets stuck in your head would have to be the opening number of the second act, (There will be no Virgins After) Tonight. I found myself laughing out loud and shaking my head and constantly think WTF is this? There were some great performances and singers, Jake Ottosen as Jacques is someone to watch out for in the future, as well Nora Munde Gustuson as Maura, the person who really blew me away with her voice was Aileen Targett as one of the three 'Chorus' members. The comic styling of Matt Harvey as Rennie are not to be over looked as well. With a cast that has great chemistry and great sense of humorbeacuse of this cast and thier determination made up for the weakness of the book.
There were a few things that I would have tightened up, in the first act there were elements of Noises Off where the technical director would interject his comments have the actors re deliver their lines, and would argue with girl and guy running the light and sound board. When these little asides were done, but the consistency wasn't there, the show would continue for great while before another interjection was added and it seemed unnecessary. If you are going to go the Noises Off route be consistent. The only other critique I would give is have the actors slow down a little in their delivery of their lines, I feel some great jokes were missed because they were rushing, and also some of the enunciation was lacking, I strained to hear what Rennie was saying as well as Duffy.
This was a fun show I really enjoyed myself and wish my side kick was with me. Rhett would have loved the sheer absurdity of the whole spectacle, I am sure some people would have hated and said it was bad, the great thing about this troupe I think deep down they all know it's not a Tony winning show, but it's new and fresh and silly, and the whole Ensemble truly belived in the show and were proud to show off what they had created, and to those who would look down their nose at this production I would say "let's see you write an original musical." I am looking forward to seeing what this crazy little group will do next, Hey guys you have a New Stalker.... I mean Fan.
So of the choices for my review of TOP, BOTTOM, or VERSITILE
I give this show a VERSITILE, do some manscaping on the script and tighten up a few songs and I can see this show being a Halloween staple year after year...........