Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2015-10-15

Full House the Musical is Awesome

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

BOBANDTOBLYBob and Tobly, photo by Allison Michael Orenstein who also took the photo of me in my shark dress that is the deader for my blog. Small queer arts world overlap.

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!

2014-09-18

Go See Bayside! The Musical! The Saved By the Bell Parody Show!

Did you watch Saved by the Bell when you were growing up? I loved it and my watching of it was so relentless that my mom created a nickname for it. She called it, “That ‘Stupid Show.’” She thought it was terrible.

Well, few things stand the test of time and the show doesn’t. I have tried to watch it as an adult and I cringe at the poorly strung together plot and all the problematic elements. But, you know, it was a kids’ show in the 90s. It wasn’t meant to stand the test of time.

Except now! National Lampoon’s Bayside! The Musical! is a musical parody of Saved by the Bell and it makes fun of the show for two hours. You’re in store for a lot of exaggerated aspects of the show and a ton of sexual innuendo. They take subtleties from the show and make them overtures. For example, the sexual tension between A.C. Slater and Zack, and the exploitation of the underage sexuality of the female characters.

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I’ve seen Bayside! The Musical! three times in a couple of different incarnations and it gets better and better. With the addition of Dustin Diamond to the cast—the actor who famously portrayed Screech on the show and has since made some questionable life choices—for a limited engagement, I had to see it again.

I love how the show keeps getting reworked, and the jokes keep getting funnier. The same actor who has been playing Screech kept the role, Dustin plays himself, a janitor at Bayside High. He has a great musical number. Dustin was really funny and did a great job making fun of himself but also with a humility and grace you might not expect of a child celebrity who is more well-known nowadays for his antics and not his talent.

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I had fun before, during and after the show. The theater pumps up the 90s jams while you’re being seated and during intermission. Many people sang along to Tearin’ Up My Heart. After the show there’s a meet and greet with Dustin Diamond!

Dara couldn’t resist the chance to get a photo with Dustin so we waited through the opening night crowd while I chatted with Bob and Tobly McSmith (the writers and band leaders of the show).

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It wasn’t on the record, so I won’t tell you all of the things I learned except this one tidbit—the caffeine pills Jessie Spano famously takes in the show have always been a running joke in the musical. I was shocked at the volume of the pills in this incarnation of the show—easily three times as many as the last time I saw it! The pills they use are tiny, white, freeze dried marshmallows (similar to those found in Lucky Charms). The production buys them in bulk but I’d love to figure out exactly how much goes into a truly exuberant Jessie Spano performance.

bayside-the-musicalApril Kidwell is incredible as Jessie Spano. She also played Nomi Malone in the musical version of Showgirls!

I am asked a lot by folks visiting New York City what they should do when they come to town. Obviously NYC is known for theater and I love quirky theater that pushes buttons. Plus, everyone back home who is a SBTB fan will be totally stoked to hear about the musical. And meeting Dustin Diamond!

AC_smallerJohn Duff still plays Slater and he fills out a singlet quite well!

The website for the show often has discount codes for tickets, and there are group arrangements that can be made for things like bachelorette parties. Plus, it’s right on St Mark’s Place so there are limitless delicious places for tea and food nearby. I suggest Crif Dogs, Puddin’ and Physical Graffitea. You can check out another post I wrote about hanging out around St. Mark’s Place here.

2013-04-22

Showgirls! The Musical! NYC through May 4th

Sometimes you go to the theater and you look at your friend during intermission and you say, “This is happening in real life.”

New York City, where all dreams are possible and all artistic visions have a chance, is the birthplace for the next great musical parody, and that parody is Showgirls! The Musical!

Perhaps some of you are unaware of the cultural gem that is Showgirls (The Movie). In 1995 there was a tremendous amount of buzz and controversy over the NC-17 rating for the movie starring Elizabeth Berkeley from Saved By the Bell fame. I felt really awesome that I managed to sneak my 16 year old self into the theater to see it. That rating is due to the language, near-constant topless dancing and wild, rough pool sex. The movie is extremely terrible, with ridiculous overacting, a terrible script and is almost a parody of itself.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

The fact that there is a musical parody of a parody makes the entire experience a bit meta.

Bob and Tobly McSmith wrote and produced Bayside! The Un-Musical! (The Saved By the Bell musical, which I enjoyed) a couple of years ago and applied that comic genius and brought along the cast member who played Jessie Spano (made famous by Showgirls’ Elizabeth Berkeley), April Kidwell. I expected this musical to be much of the same but was surprised to like it even better!

The entire production is made up of professional actors and is extremely well-performed. Though some of the choreography is intentionally cheesy, it’s actually quite good. Something as big as recreating a thirty person Las Vegas strip production in a tiny off-broadway theater with a cast of seven is difficult to do, but they managed to cut to the essence of the Goddess show (the production the film is based around) with a volcano tossed over a stripper pole, strategically spandexed gold lame’ and the show’s main attribute, entirely topless dancing.

Yes, much of the show is performed topless. I don’t think it’s redundant to say as a lesbian I enjoy boobs. And as a feminist I don’t want to be like, you should only go see the show for the tits, but they’re really good and in context and I think feminism is sometimes about boobs at the intersection of consent and context.

The comic timing and one-liners are genius. I thought The Gay (a parody character of the stage manager/choreographer of the Goddess show), played by Philip McLeod, was a stand-out character and actually more meaty than I remembered it being from the original. He is the character who touts brown rice and vegetables for the dancers in the big show and famously tells Elizabeth Berkeley to “THRUST! THRUST!” in a tight shot of his face at her pelvis.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

Marcus Desion had the task of playing both Molly (the BFF of the main character) and James (an erstwhile love interest/dance coach for the main character). This switch was made with a wig and bad 90s women’s fashions.

The key to Showgirls realness is the extreme overacting of Nomi, the lead character. She basically has a huge temper tantrum at the end of each scene and storms out, which is so unsettling it is comical. April Kidwell was incredible and I actually hated her character far less in the musical than in the movie.

Some of the song highlights for me were the hit “Don’t Lick the Pole” during the scene at the strip club Nomi works at until she is discovered. Not only is the song really funny (and good advice) but it’s accompanied by the athletic pole dance moves by April.

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Borrowed tech rehearsal shots from the Facebook page for the musical.

Even if you didn’t like the movie Showgirls (or haven’t seen it), you’ll still really enjoy the musical. I mean, pole dancing, topless actresses (one of whom is a tall and curvy, they didn’t just cast skinny girls), and funny songs. I think it’s better than a night at Scores, and you’re supporting up and coming very talented actors and musical writers/directors/producers. I honestly think Showgirls! The Musical! should become a fixture in the erotic nightlife of New York City.

Check out the cast page for some hilarious gifs of the characters in the show.

You can get tickets (the show runs through May 4th) at the Showgirls! The Musical! website! Only twenty bucks, it’s a bargain for such great entertainment, and you can bring booze down from the KGB Bar upstairs.

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