Whew. Another crazy day of theater. Let’s get to it, shall we?
First up was DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS: The Cease and Desist Musical on the main stage of Theatre on the Square. This is a confectionery of a musical, pure and simple. Cheerfully devoid of nutritional value, the show follows a local theater company in New Jersey as they attempt to adapt that popular ’80s movie with the ghosts and the busting into a musical. When a cease and desist letter shows up from the studio, they scramble to adapt the story so it’s unrecognizable from its original form, veering into a wild send up of theater styles from kabuki to interpretive dance.
Even more zaniness ensues when leading man Barry (Rodger Pille) twists his ankle. Hugo West (Tom Highley), a famous soap opera star, is called in as his replacement. Highley is hilarious in the role, overacting like some sort of Shakespearean nightmare with wonderful cluelessness.
The supporting characters are strong here, with disgusting puppeteer Corky (Sean Mette), washed-up folk singer turned pianist Leroy (played with weary, Cheeto eating resignation by Steve Milloy) and Teddy (Chris Stewart, with an uncanny Rick Moranis impersonation) all turning in blisteringly funny performances.
The songs are most forgettable; the title number, “Don’t Cross the Streams,” is the best of the bunch, though “The Ghost Bus to My Lord,” a riotous send up of gospel numbers, has its moments. The dancing and physical comedy is well done, with silly string, costuming and puppets used to great effect.
All in all, this is an exuberant and playful send up of theater. If you’re involved in theater or have a passion for the stage, this is a neat send up that reminded me a little of Waiting for Guffman with its approach to local theater. You can go get slimed–er, supernatural jellied, at their remaining shows:
Friday, August 24, 7:30 pm
Sunday, August 26, 1:30 pm
I popped out of the main stage at Theatre on the Square and over to its cabaret-style stage 2 for Creatures of the Night.
Creatures of the Night is the story of the two founding (and only) members of the Lycanthrope Action Committee. Conk (Scot Greenwell) and Fleckwell (Robert Neal) set up a stakeout in Aunt Meredith’s shed to see if they can find real, true explanations for supernatural phenomenon. The play is intimate, unfolding entirely between the two men in the shed, talking about their newly formed Committee, the group they left behind and the nature of the supernatural.
The play is well acted. Both Greenwell and Neal inhabit their characters and give nuanced comedic performances. But something about this play whooshed past me. I wasn’t sure what the point of it all was.
Don’t get me wrong, shows don’t have to have big points. Silliness is okay. Humor is okay. Unanswered questions are okay. But something about the show just slid past me without making an impression. It’s competent. It’s well done. The audience around me seemed to enjoy the show. There were plenty of big laughs. But it left me cold.
The conversation rambled and meandered, hopscotching to a new point before the old one was every truly explored. There were a few interesting ideas raised, including the concept that werewolves undergo a mental transformation instead of a physical one, but it skirted around more interesting explorations of why we choose, even need, to believe in the supernatural instead of diving into those issues more fully. And they had the time to explore it–this show comes in at a very lean 45 minutes.
Sometimes, a show simply doesn’t spark your imagination. And unfortunately, that was the case for me with Creatures of the Night. Judge for yourself:
Saturday, August 25, 7:30 pm
Sunday, August 26, 6:00 pm
Tomorrow night will likely be my last night at the Fringe–what shouldn’t I miss?
My tickets were provided courtesy Indy Fringe.