COURTESY MANOA VALLEY THEATRE
Kim Anderson, left, Terry E. Howell Jr, Elitei Tatafu Jr., and Pilar Walsh star in Manoa Valley Theatre's "The Musical of Musicals -- The Musical!"
‘Musical’ broadly parodies Broadway
Manoa Valley Theatre's season-opening production of "The Musical of Musicals -- The Musical!" is a sophisticated satire that requires an encyclopedic knowledge of American musical theater to fully appreciate, but the animated performances of director Jim Hutchison's superb ensemble cast make much of the material easily accessible mainstream comedy.
"The Musical of Musicals -- The Musical!"
Presented by Manoa Valley Theatre
» When: Continues at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday, through Sept. 23.
» Tickets: $35; $30 seniors and military; $25 age 25 and younger.
» Call: 988-6131 or visit www.manoavalleytheatre.com.
Playwrights Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart start with the premise of a young woman facing eviction (or worse) if she can't pay the rent, and then present the story as it might have been written for Broadway by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander & Ebb.
In "Corn!," a broad reworking of "Oklahoma!," sweet young June will be forced to marry the creepy and evil Jidder unless Big Willy and Mother Abby can find a way to pay off the mortgage. In "A Little Complex," a psychopathic artist/landlord named Jitter offers to waive Juene's overdue rent if she will "pose" for him. And there's Sir Phantom Jitter menacing the very Evita-like Junita in "Aspects of Junita."
"Dear Abby!," a extended riff on "Mame," and "Speakeasy," a mash-up of Kander & Ebb set in "a cabaret in Chicago," complete the program in fine style.
Kim Anderson (the ingenue), Terry E. Howell, Jr. (the leading man), Elitei Tatafu Jr. (the villain) and Pilar Walsh (the older woman) are excellent throughout -- over the top one moment, subtle and nuanced the next. Phil Hidalgo (musical director and narrator) adds comic impact with occasional comments about the actors' performances and stage cues.
The show gets off to a quick start with "Corn!" and succeeds on several levels with each version of the story. It isn't necessary to have seen "Oklahoma!" to appreciate the silliness of Big Willy singing about the wonderfulness of corn and his love for his "wonderful hoe," or to be entertained by Tatafu's portrayal of the evil landlord.
Theater veterans will also catch many one-line references to characters and songs from other shows -- for example, a Lloyd Webber character referred to as "... a cat of many colors," or an oblique reference to Sondheim's relatively obscure historical musical, "Pacific Overture."
Tatafu, a known quality on Hawaii's musical theater scene, distinguishes himself once again with his work here as the comic villains. Jitter is the creepiest; Jütter, the emcee in "Speakeasy," utilizes Tatafu's talents as a song-and-dance man.
Howell gets the show off to the strong start as the leading man in "Corn!," and Pilar Walsh steps forward in the starring role of eccentric Auntie Abby in a short but successful deconstruction of "Mame."
And then there's Kim Anderson. It seems like only yesterday that she starred as a young Dorothy Gale in "The Wizard of Oz" at Diamond Head Theatre and I wrote, "Anderson is a young woman to watch in local theater." That was then, 2003 to be exact, and four years later, at 17, Anderson is a dazzling performer with talent and stage presence to share.
Karen Archibald (set design/scenic artist) provides just enough in the way of set pieces to suggest the various locales, Janine Myers (lighting) enhances the doom and gloom of Sondheim and Jason Taglianetti (sound) embellishes a key moment in the Lloyd Webber parody.
Hutchison's choreography also adds comic impact in key places. His treatment of the "Speakeasy" section is particularly good, and the finale, "One" from "A Chorus Line," is perfect as a last shot at Broadway.