FICTITIOUS The Musical The Warehouse – Mainstage
Remaining Performances: Wednesday, July 15th at 5 p.m.; Friday, July 24th at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, July 25th at 10:30 p.m.
They Say: “This (sic) satirical musical comedy. Hugh Diffindoffer, a young immigrant from ‘Nonexzistia’ comes to America. His journey leads him to become The Number One Bodybuilder in the World, Movie Star in the World and finally, Leader of the Free World.”
Glen’s Take: They also say: “127 Minutes.” So yeah; know that.
Look, the songs by Tom Hyndman are solid, the harmonies both precise and euphonious, and the band, led by Mary Sugar, is tight. They sound great — yes, grampa, they’re loud (amplifiers + teensy space = scowls from the Olive-Garden early-bird contingent) — but they’re great.
The music itself is pleasingly catchy; it’s lyrically that the songs underperform. Many of Hynder’s most hummable tunes dispense with the verse as quickly as possible so they can head straight for the chorus and homestead there, but that’s par for the Broadway course.
The problem — and it gets to be a big one, after the first hour — is that those choruses, in true “The Song That Goes Like This” fashion, tend to consist of a given song’s title, repeated and repeated and repeated. That’s a good way to pump up a song’s earworm potential, certainly (you’re not gonna forget that “Across the Bay” refrain anytime soon, pal), but it serves to makes Hyndman’s songwriting seem flatter, thinner, than his agreeable melodies would indicate.
What’s filling the gaps between the songs is a lot of Schwarzenegger jokes, which come off more than a little dated and more than a lot corny-as-hell. (Number of times, by my count, that the script goes to the “I’ll be back” well: Five.)
But you can’t say that Harv Lester, as the Schwarzenegger stand-in, doesn’t commit himself to the Ah-nuld impression that hacky stand-ups have been doing since, oh, the late Jurassic. And Gillian Shelley, as the ersatz Maria Shriver, knows that she can get a laugh with even a lousy joke by delivering it with a quick tilt of the head downstage and a faraway expression.
But the hour-and-change running time (they must have done some cutting; they need to do more) and broadside-of-a-barn satirical targets (video clips parodying Entertainment Tonight bring the proceedings to a screeching halt, every time) make for slow, and only fitfully entertaining, going.
See it if: You’ll gladly suffer some tired puns for some catchy ditties, and believe cheesiness to be its own reward.
Skip it if: You reached for the remote whenever “Pumping Up with Hanz and Franz” came on. TWENTY-TWO YEARS AGO.