Back in March, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in an amazing sanctuary space amidst a temporary art installation in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It's hard to explain what the Forest of the Future was, but for some background you can read the curator/producer Quito's statement about it here. It really gives a good background of how they just wanted to make a magical space to bring together a bunch of the visionaries they've met in their world travels, see what connections and catalyzing could happen, and that space was a forest.
I already gave away my review in the title, there I go again. But knew I was going to love Full House the Musical before I even saw it because it was written by Bob and Tobly McSmith. They are the duo behind the musical parody of Saved By the Bell (Bayside the Musical) and Showgirls (Showgirls the Musical). Tobly and Bob know how to tease out and highlight the most ridiculous elements of their characters, string together a plot featuring the greatest hits of the show and write jaunty tunes revealing the innermost turmoil of the cast. The 90s is full of material just waiting for their treatment.
Full House, for those not familiar, is the iconic show where dad Danny Tanner (played in the original by Bob Saget and here by Perez Hilton–yes that Perez Hilton), is suddenly widowed (widowered?) and left alone to raise three daughters. Enter brother-in-law Uncle Jesse (played by John Stamos and here by John Duff) and best friend Uncle Joey (played by this Canadian actor who once dated Alanis Morisette, and here by Seth Blum) to help out and provide hijinks only three single guys together raising three girls can have. Full House is the reason that Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are famous and why whenever you see Bob Saget in anything on TV or movies he’s swearing up a storm to prove how edgy he is. (See Entourage, Season 2.)
The musical is full of 90s nostalgia. From the playlist of 90s singalong songs that plays while you wait for the show to start, to the opening jingle of TGIF (anyone who watched Full House on TV knows it), to the Alanis Morissette references peppered throughout, it’s a group cultural experience touching back on 20 year old things you forgot you remembered. That alone makes it an amazing group theater outing–I know lots of folks go to the Bob and Tobly shows as Bachelorette parties, because 30 somethings these days are going to a lot of weddings and 90s nostalgia makes for a fun, raucous night out. Also there’s a bar attached to the historic theater and they encourage booze to support the arts.
One of the most brilliant songs was “There’s No Gays in San Francisco (As Demonstrated by this TV Show).” Because, in a town as culturally diverse as San Francisco the cast is completely white and there is no reference to homosexuality in San Francisco even once in almost 200 episodes. Full House is a shining example of how mainstream media ignores anything that’s not convenient for them. I’m glad the musical addressed the lack of any reference to San Francisco as a center of Gay Liberation.
The actually most brilliant song in the show is “Kimmy Gibbler Don’t Give a F*ck.” It really encapsulates the essence of Kimmy Gibbler, the wacky and pesty next door neighbor. There’s a queef solo.
John Duff is the babe that played gay Slater in Bayside the Musical and I was so excited to see him as Uncle Jesse. He shined in his musical solos and necessary Uncle Jesse Elvis impersonations. He was discovered by Bob and Tobly on a subway car heading home from auditions for Bayside the Musical! And now he’s getting songs written for him. New York City dreams do come true, you guys!
Seth Blum is the kind of actor who truly lets everything go on stage. His physical comedy is full force and in Bayside as his roles of Mr. Belding/Torey the Bad Girl/Anyone Else they needed I was stunned at how quickly he was able to change backstage and the same is true here in his role as Uncle Joey “and others.” He is brilliant, I’d go see whatever shows he’s in.
Perez Hilton is working on changing his image. You know him as the gossip website maven who shot to fame by talking shit about famous people. He’s got two kids now and is making a conscious change to be less of a person who is famous for tearing people down and instead resting on his own talents. I was curious if he would be any good, and I was impressed. The first few notes he sang you could catch a whiff of the Uma Thurman character in Smash, where it’s clear he’s not a musical theater native, but the rest of the show he blended well musically with the other actors. His acting range was very impressive, given the character arc of Danny Tanner in the musical, which goes from Dad speeches to the more nasty and raunchy elements of Bob Sagat’s public persona. I thought the range showed acting talent and I’m excited to see what Perez does next!
The women playing the girls of Full House were also really talented (and somehow are heighted exactly right in descending order to match the show). The show had to be pretty offensive (it’s the Bob and Tobly McSmith way) and it relies heavily on the clumsy way in which Full House addressed the burgeoning sexuality of the two older daughters. There’s a very realistic cum dumpster prop that is used in one of the later scenes.
Full House the Musical is worth a trip. Off-Broadway shows like this are my favorite in NYC. The smaller theaters are more intimate, you can see the actors and often I find them more fun with better storytelling. (I saw the Anna Nicole opera and I definitely thought Tobly and Bob do better at celebrity parody. There, I said it.) Plus I like to support hard working artists I know from the LGBT community!
You can get tickets through their website. Use code “Olsen” for 25% off! And be sure to sign up for their email list for future discounts and announcements. I saw Screech in Bayside the Musical, who knows, maybe Candace Cameron will give up her fundamentalist lifestyle to come visit the set?
P.S. Have you seen John Stamos in Grandfathered? It’s a cute show!