Tamarie Cooper, co-founder of The Catastrophic Theatre, brings her annual musical comedy revue — this is the 15th — and a horde of committed actors and dancers to DiverseWorks in a colorful, splashy production.
The set, designed by Kirk Markley, is a handsome, elegant skyline with some windows lit – Fred and Ginger could have used it without a single change, it is that professional. This soothing pre-show vista is soon overtaken by bedlam as Tamarie Cooper enters to start the merry antics — Tamarie not only holds the stage, she owns it with a vengeance, and doesn’t leave it for 90 minutes of uninterrupted frivolity. This revue is ostensibly about the end of the world, but is really about energy and enthusiasm and irreverence for all the graven images of our culture.
The costumes, by Kelly Switzer, are part of the unrelenting fun — the outfit for The Dancing Cupcake (Ivy Castle) is detailed, appetizing and witty, and the multi-limbed costumes of the giant roaches (John Dunn, Richard Lyders and Rebecca Randall) seem to dance themselves — well, of course, after all that post-apocalyptic radiation.
Every Doomsday prediction from the Mayan calendar to the Rapture comes in for some skewering, and the plot — I use the term loosely — is that Tamarie’s plans for a blockbuster musical are interrupted by Greg Dean’s forecasts of imminent doom.
Dean seems to be a Tamarie favorite, but his line readings are ponderous, and his skit with Tamarie satirizing depressing avant-garde theater lacks the triumphant energy found elsewhere, as in an inspired sequence involving more Barbie dolls than I care to count, with Richard Lyders as Ken (some of these dolls may be less well-known, such as the Prostitute Barbie). Another sequence is especially brilliant, nailing the teenage angst of being the outsider, and the wit here is incisive yet strangely gentle and sweet.
And who knew there was so much rich humor in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, all on hobby-horses: War (Xzavien Hollins), Pestilence (Mateo Mpinduzi-Mott), Famine (Richard Lyders) and Death (Kyle Sturdivant). Jessica Janes is statuesque and imposing as the Whore of Babylon, and Dennis Draper comes close to capturing Wilford Brimley, who seems to have wandered in from an oatmeal commercial. But musical theater is there to rebuild the world, as exemplified by zombies from Cabaret (Christine Arnold), Into the Woods (Jessica Janes), Phantom of the Opera (Mateo Mpinduze-Mott), Annie (Shanon Adams), Hair (Brandon Balque), and Fiddler on the Roof (Abraham Zeus Zapata).
Zapata also plays The Man Who Beats Himself with a Rubber Chicken while Wearing Just Underpants, and don’t ask me why, but it’s hilarious. Elissa Levitt plays Punk-Rock Barbie and Cece White plays Ballerina Barbie, and they also play, like the other actors, multiple roles, and all sing and dance, but Brandon Balque and Richard Lyders have the hippest moves — except for Tamarie herself, who can do no wrong, and whose skill and professionalism shape this motley bag of concepts into a cohesive whole. The composers, all wonderful, are Joe Folladori, Miriam Daly and John Duboise, the lyrics are by Joe Folladori, Patrick Reynolds, Miriam Daly, and Tamarie, and the writing is by Tamarie, Patrick Reynolds, and Joe Folladori. The four-piece band swings with the same spirit and energy as the cast.
A large, triumphant cast brings to life a revue of great humor, considerable wit and inspired foolishness, guaranteeing an evening of delightful enjoyment.