Peoria Journal Star Sings the Praises of “The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)”

We received a stellar review from The Peoria Journal Star!  Here is a copy in case you missed it…

REVIEW: DINNER AND MUSICAL PARODY NOT TO MISS

Five of Broadway’s signature styles get spun at the Waterhouse

 By GARY PANETTA (gpanetta@pjstar.com)

of the Journal Star

Posted Mar 07, 2010 @ 07:18 PM

If you’re looking for a decent meal and sheer hilarity, you could do worse than “The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!” It’s running Downtown at the Waterhouse.

First staged in 2005 at New York’s Dodger Stages, “The Musical of Musicals” is the parody to end all parodies of that 20th century American art form that now – thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber – has come to acquire a distinctively British accent.

A horribly hackneyed storyline about a heroine who can’t pay the rent to an evil landlord but who is eventually rescued by a handsome hero receives five different satirical spins: in the styles of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Webber, and Kander and Ebb.

Theater insiders especially will enjoy “The Musical of Musicals.” There are allusions to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Into the Woods,” “Hello, Dolly!” “Evita,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technnicolor Dreamcoat,” “Oklahoma!” and more. You don’t have to be a musical-theater know-it-all, however, to enjoy this piece.

Directed by Andrew Driscoll with assistance from Ed Peck, the whole thing is so lively and silly and light-hearted it’s sure to hold your attention. As much celebration as send-up, it also might tempt you to revisit all of those old chestnuts at a local community theater near you.

Speaking of community theater, if you attend this offering by the fledgling Peoria Cabaret Theatre, which bases itself at the Waterhouse, you will recognize some familiar faces from Peoria stages: Katie McLuckie (heroine in distress), Jarod Hazzard (the hero to the rescue), Mike Reams (the evil landlord), Barb Couri (the supporting female character who often walks away with the show). These folks are among the best of the best on local stages.

Led by the skilled and steady hands of Havana piano player Anthony Roberts, who also doubles as narrator, McLuckie and the rest deliver delightfully over-the-top performances.

Reams is especially wonderful in his many incarnations as the evil landlord – from a country bumpkin/villain in “Corn” to the Sweeney Todd-type murderous artist in “A Little Complex” to the Phantom of the Opera caricature in “Aspects of Junita” and the hilariously twisted emcee in “Cabaret.” The show, in fact, is true test of an actor’s versatility. Whether it was Couri’s dead-on portrait of an addled alcoholic neighbor in the Sondheim parody or McLuckie standing in the spotlight in a classic Evita pose, all the performers not only were up to the challenge but also seemed to have fun with the show.

“The Musical of Musicals” does nicely in the intimate setting of the Waterhouse, which seats about 120. (About 85 showed up to see the show Friday). This piece is performance driven, and it pays to be close to the actors. The food, meanwhile, is excellent – Friday’s buffet dinner included carrots, pasta and chicken. This is dinner theater with a difference, a nice addition to Downtown Peoria.

Gary Panetta can be reached at 686-3132 or gpanetta@pjstar.com.

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Filed under News, Review, The Musical of Musicals

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