Best Musical! A Completely
Improvised Musical Comedy
Sorta like “Smash” smushed and live!
|Porchlight Music Theatre presents|
A Completely Improvised Musical Comedy
Review by Katy Walsh
I love the flash mob craze. I want life to burst out into spontaneous dancing. Or singing! I think work meetings, bus rides, and grocery shopping could use a little perky tune to jazz up the mundane. Life just sounds better with music.
Porchlight Music Theatre presents Best Musical! A Completely Improvised Musical Comedy. Second City veteran Matthew Loren Cohen has devised a build-your-own-adventure musical. Upon arrival, the audience is invited to submit a suggestion for a song title. The big bucket of potential one hit wonders is put on stage. The shows starts as an award ceremony. The master of ceremonies introduces an ensemble member as an award winner. That actor pulls a song title from the pile. S/he must then perform a short sketch working in the requested song. All five actors get their shot in the spotlight with or without cast support. At the end of all five shticks, the audience chooses their favorite. During the intermission, the cast takes the winning entry and makes a whole musical out of it. They perform it in the second half. Best Musical! A Completely Improvised Musical Comedy is like “Smash” smushed and live!
The talented ensemble takes it on with hilarious results. They step into a theatric black hole. It’s like charades roulette. But instead of acting out the slip of paper to a den of friends, it’s performed to 100+ strangers. No rehearsal. No script. No warning! The night I saw the show the song choices ended up…
- “All About My Na-Na”
- “Dinky Donkey Song”
- “I Am My Own Sugardaddy”
- “I Have A Dream But It’s a Stupid One”
- “No One Can Spoil This Investigation”
Just to prove how vulnerable the situation is for an actor, Erica Elam picks #4 and improvs herself into a *politically incorrect* zone. She plays it retarded. She goes there. Oh yes, she did. Throughout all the bits, Elam is hysterical. Her animated face and precision timing is comedy gold. During the voting, Cody Dove (MC) effectively sways the audience away from the *retarded musical.* Instead our tasteful crowd chooses “No One Can Spoil This Investigation” from the soon-to-be famous musical “The Jon Benet Ramsey Story.”
When we return from intermission, the ensemble has put together a 45 minute sketch improv meets musical spectacle. The highlight of the musical within a comedy is the reenactment of the original song from the first act. The actors try to recall their buffoonery-in-the-moment. The audience rewards exactness with laughter and applause.
This show is just fun! Every Wednesday, the antics will be fresh pickings. As a writer, I favor scripted shows over improv. But the abilities of this cast to create a tasty instant spoof du jour is marveling.
Best Musical! A Completely Improvised Musical Comedy continues through March 28th at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map), with performances Wednesdays at 8pm. Tickets are $15, and are available by phone (773-327-5252) or at printtixusa.com. More info at PorchlightMusicTheatre.org. (Running time: 2 hours with an intermission)
All photos by Jeannie Lukow
behind the scenes
3Words: Enjoying his favorite genre combo, comedy and musical, Dick describes the show with “totally not #@tarded!”