‘Doomsday Revue’: Playwright’s prep for end of the world
Are you ready for the end of the world?
Tamarie Cooper sure is!
She's got her tap shoes on and her crazy gang gathered around her to sing, dance, clown, don outrageous costumes and laugh in the face of doom. In short, they're putting on a musical.
Which seems a much more reasonable (not to mention enjoyable) response than stockpiling canned peaches and flashlight batteries in the cellar.
"Tamarie Cooper's Doomsday Revue" is the 15th in Cooper's series of wacky original musicals that have become a summer institution in this city. If this Catastrophic Theatre outing is not the best of the series, it certainly upholds the standard.
Hysterically funny much of the time and carried by the overall air of amiable craziness the rest of the time? Check.
Once again, Cooper has conceived, directed, choreographed, co-designed the insanely inventive costumes (with Kelly Switzer), and stars (as herself), and Patrick Reynolds has written the book. The songs are by Cooper, Reynolds, Miriam Daly, John Duboise and Joe Folladori (in various combinations). The 17-person cast includes many series regulars and a few new faces.
Cooper launches the show in an ebullient mood, promising "the greatest musical ever" as the cast rushes out to join her in the insanely eager-to-please opening number, "We Can't Wait to Entertain the @#% Out of You."
Then Greg Dean (a Catastrophic company member but not usually a participant in Cooper's revels) stalks on stage, reminding everyone that the world will end this year, according to the Mayan calendar.
The rest of the show has Cooper trying to argue Dean and others out of gloom-and-doom predictions, as the heroine muses on the prospect of global annihilation. She recalls her childhood game of surrounding herself with her favorite dolls while pretending the world was ending, then some mortifying high school mishaps that merely seemed like the end of the world.
One of the funniest scenes depicts those pests, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Cooper ribs Death that – with War, Famine and Pestilence as sidekicks – isn't he kind of superfluous? The Four argue and get their feelings hurt, finally upstaged by the arrival of the Fifth Horseman, Gay Marriage.
"Welcome to the Post-Apocalyptic World" points up the advantages of that environment. For instance, everything's free at the mall, all you can carry!
The material is somewhat hit and miss, the satiric edge not as sharp as in last year's politically themed show. Some of the songs essentially repeat a funny title idea without sufficiently developing it, but most are pretty funny anyway.
The prevailing air of outrageous fun keeps you grinning. Credit Cooper's appeal as a comic personality, the irresistible exuberance of the talented cast, the hilarious costumes and some standout dance interludes, particularly Cooper's breathless tap routine with three lively cockroaches.
Everyone in the cast has standout moments in multiple roles, with Ivy Castle, Rebecca Randall and Richard Lyders rating special mention. Dean handles his devil's advocate role with dire verve. And the always spectacular Kyle Sturdivant again proves uproarious in several turns, especially as the snide Death and a psychotic, sewer-mouthed Teddy Bear.
Regardless of whether the world will end, or when, it's always the right time to cue the tap-dancing cupcakes and cockroaches. Cooper and company make a better case for that argument than the end-of-the-world crowd makes for its.