Broadway or Bust
June 19 – August 1
“A musical spoof about musicals” is how Studio Theatre’s “Broadway or Bust” is enticingly described. And this is certainly true as the show weaves its way through all kind of familiar musical melodies, starting with ‘Find Your Grail’ from “Spamalot”. This opening number serves not only to set the tongue-in-cheek tone of the production but also to establish its narrative theme as members of an amateur theatre group spend the following two hours both searching for a show for their production and ultimately on quest to find their individual musical callings.
Despite their director (Damien Lee)’s urging, no one wants to do “Romeo and Juliet” and the company of seven instead decides to create a show of their own – a musical to be written by group member Tony, who unfortunately only writes children’s plays. By Act Two’s (unnecessary in purpose beyond inclusion of a number from “Cats”) play within a play pantomime presentation, farcical chaos ensues, thanks also to the personality clashes within the company.
Hasbeen Felicia (Heloise-Laure Ruinard) is every bit the stereotypical diva (body by Versace, mind by Mattel), while wannabe Dutch/German Ingra (Brooke Williams) is clueless in her questions and unintentional sexual statements. While their characters clash, their times together on stage are show highlights, particularly their Act One ‘Anything Goes’/’Anything You Can Do’ tap duet. Indeed, it is the show’s musical numbers that reveal the most promise. Even if there are some pitch issues with singers not always hitting and holding notes, the music itself is catchy. The choreography has been cleverly determined to account for the non-dancer male members of the ensemble, however, is optimistic in its use of such a small stage that is perhaps not quite comfortable enough for cartwheels.
In true melodrama style, “Broadway or Bust” is a spoof of silliness, full of dad jokes, dodgy wigs, political incorrectness and sexual innuendos, that, through repetition of the same jokes told different ways, eventually serve only to detract from the cleverness of the script’s construction and incorporation of musical references. Dated as it may now well be, however, the humour was appreciated by the distractingly chatty matinee audience, especially the inclusion of inset token local location jokes (think Woodridge, Boondall, the usual stuff).
“Broadway or Bust” is an ambitious show choice both in genre and the execution demands of songs such as Barbara Streisand’s ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’ and Peter Allen’s seminal ‘Don’t Cry out Loud” and while the production doesn’t always hit the mark, there is a clear musical rhythm to its pacing, especially evident in its Act One closer, ‘What You Want’, from “Legally Blonde”. The show is far from a complete bust and certainly has some bright moments, and Broadway lovers may well like to give it a look for musical nostalgia and a few laughs.