Jerry (Michael Liebhauser) is jokeless. His stand-up routine, once rich with observational humor and musings on the human condition, has come to a screeching halt. “Whaaaat’s the deal?” And what to do? With the help of his close friends George (Jacob Millman), Elaine (Jenna Cormey) & Kramer (Matthew Ruehlman), he brainstorms to write a musical.
Lyricists and book writers Bob and Tobly McSmith return to the New York Stage with their latest skewering in Singfeld! An Unauthorized Musical Parody About Nothing! This marks the pair’s 10th parody of familiar television properties. Others have included 90210!, The Office! Friends! (reviewed here in 2017), and Saved By the Bell!
Composer and orchestrator Billy Recce, known for his own humorous treatment of Star Wars and an upcoming queer satire on Chick-Fil-A, provides bouncy, playful tunes to this New York City centered silliness.
Director Mark David Wright has assembled a fine group who impeccably capture the essence of this quartet. Millman skillfully delivers a generous dose of doubt and neuroses to George Costanza. He also plays Newman, the self-described “sexiest mailman you’ve ever seen.” Jerry’s archrival hatches a plan to one-up his enemy and write his own show. As he points out, “every show needs a person to hate.”
Ruehlman, who naturally inhabits the height of Kramer, physically captures all of his quirks and awkwardness. He delivers what may be the parody’s most juvenile, yet hilarious lines about a friend’s gastro-intestinal issue.
Cormey is a dead-ringer for Elaine Benes. She has the mannerisms, the facial expressions, and even the especially bad dance moves mimicked to perfection.
Mike Kinzer rounds out the cast as “Everybody Else in NYC.” With quick agility and numerous vocal impersonations, he morphs from Jerry’s girlfriend (Susan) to Elaine’s boss (J. Peterman), with several personalities in between.
Aside from Jerry (played with endearing reverence by Liebhauser), the entire cast portrays multiple characters throughout these 90 minutes of escapist fun. It’s impressive how much the creative team has been able to pack into a 9 year running television series.
There is obvious affection for musical theater here as well. Quick nods to references like Stephen Sondheim and A Chorus Line are cleverly embedded, creating a real treat for theater nerds. Even William Shakespeare gets a shout-out! Sure. There is some sophomoric humor, but it is leveled with smart comedy.
Given the theater’s proximity to Times Square and the musical’s brand recognition, it’s a safe bet that this will draw the tourist crowd. But it’s sure to satisfy theater geeks and natives as well. One could go on and on about how ideal it is for date night or with a group a friends and yadda yadda, or one could cut to the chase and get tickets already. For a musical parody about nothing, it’s quite a delightful something.
Singfeld! An Unauthorized Musical Parody About Nothing! is now playing at the Jerry Orbach Theater at the Theater Center (210 West 50th Street between Broadway and 8th ave. NYC). Showtimes vary. For tickets and information, click here.