by Richard Hinojosa · August 19, 2015
Cast of Magic Jukebox | Morgan Shortell
In musical theatre, a character bursts into song because they feel so passionately about what they have to say that merely speaking the words is just not enough – they have to sing! That said, if I could sing this review to you I would. That’s how passionately I loved this hilarious musical sketch comedy show from The Serious Theatre Collective. It is a tight, polished show with an outstanding ensemble.
The show opens with a sketch that cleverly acknowledges that everyone is singing their lines (using melodies borrowed from shows such as Pirates of Penzance and Les Miz) and even makes fun of itself for doing so. It is a good way to let the audience know that they are not going to take themselves too seriously (despite the name of their company) and neither should we. The next four sketches are absolutely hilarious beginning with a somber scene where a bed sings a lamenting song to its owner about her not being around so much. Next, a man on a blind date finds that he made claims on his internet profile that he can’t backup and has to call on the Angels of Bullshit choir to rescue him. The next sketch has no onstage singing (just silly dancing) and is the most subtlety funny sketch of the evening.
The program moves at a fast and funny pace for the first half and then it sags a little in the middle. Ironically, the sketch from which the show takes its title falls flat, as it cannot deliver what it promises. However, it picks back up with the final four sketches and ends with a bang. There is a hysterical parody of a popular internet video followed by my favorite scene of the night where a man goes into an intensive training montage so he can open a pickle jar for his wife.
The production’s strongest points are its cast and the writing. Lyricist Lizz Leiser (who also serves as one of the show’s directors) delivers some great one-liners. Working with her composers, Ari Kessler and Nick Sula, Leiser’s songs are the backbone of the production. The band, sitting stage left, cranks out the tunes in perfect timing with the ensemble’s action. The cast is a taut group of versatile performers who make every moment shine by pouring every ounce of energy into their songs and characters. The ensemble, Ciara Curran, Chris D’Amato, Abby Goldfarb, Sam Durant Hunter, Kacie LaForest, Britton Saffer and Kymberly Tuttle, well deserved the standing ovation they received the night I attended. It can be difficult to stand out among a group as talented as this but Goldfarb and Hunter both found a way to shine consistently. It’s also worth mentioning that Megan Barbour’s props, costumes and puppets are extremely well done and add a fair amount of production value.
Magic Jukebox is loaded with unadulterated entertainment. The writing is spot-on, the music is snappy and the cast is absolutely fearless. This show will tickle you even if you are not a fan of musical theatre. You may even find yourself singing lines from the Pickle Jar Montage in the shower. I know I did.