fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Theatre Binge - Part 2

Fat Camp: I had originally intended to spend my Saturday night in New York seeing the revival of Carrie, one of the most notoriously awful musicals of all time. It closed early, alas, so I was scrounging for something else to see. In browsing various options, I stumbled upon Fat Camp which had won some acclaim at the New York Musical Theatre Festival a few years ago.

The basic premise involves a number of teenagers at Camp Overton, a weight loss camp. One camper, Robert, proclaims that he is fine, just the way he is, and refuses to go along with the program. Things get more complicated when he falls for Taylor, who lets him in on the little secret that he has to follow the program if he's going to have the privilege of going to the big dance. There are further complications when three cheerleaders from a camp down the road show up.

This was very lively and funny. The score by Matthew roi Berger and lyrics by Randy Blair were enjoyable and enhanced the story. I'd mention individual songs, but there was no song list in the program. There is a cast list and I want to particularly note Molly Hager as Taylor and Carly Jibson as Daphne.

I'm not convinced this would transfer well to Broadway, but I can easily see it being done at various off-Broadway venues. Here in the D.C. area, it seems perfect for Landless Theatre Company. (And, they have in fact, done other shows by the same creative team.)

Utopia, Limited: The show which triggered the New York trip was the Blue Hill Troupe production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia, Limited. I'm trying to see all the G&S operettas and this one is very rarely performed, so I jumped at the opportunity to add it to my list.

I should note that Blue Hill Troupe is an amateur group, but their history goes back to the 1920's and a few of their members are equity actors. Their shows are all charity benefits. In this case, the money was going to the "I Have a Dream" Foundation. The charity aspect leads to them having the thickest program I have ever seen for any theatre production - 160 pages of articles and ads. Lots of ads, but that's okay with me since it's for a good cause.

The basic plot involves a South Pacific island nation that is modernizing by Anglifying. The Princess Zara has brought back advisors from England who turn the country into a limited liability corporation. This proves to have many advantages, but there are some problems as well, with the king's two wise men (who have secretly manipulated things for years) stirring up the population. Fortunately, Princess Zara remembers the importance of the two-party system, with its ability to create political gridlock, and that saves the day.

They did do some tweaking of the show but I looked at the libretto afterwards and the surgery was less extensive than I had originally thought. There were a few modern additions, but they were not significant distractions. For example, when the attendees are being introduced at the tea, they include "Lord and Lady Gaga," "Mr. Smith, Miss Klein and Miss Glaxo" and too many others for me to remember. The protests stirred up by the wise men have the people holding signs that say things like "Occupy Utopia."

There aren't any particularly familiar songs, but even the least of the Gilbert and Sullivan canon is still fun. The performers all did well. Oh, rapture! The objectives of the trip were well satisfied.
Tags: gilbert and sullivan, musicals, theatre

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