Book/Lyrics: Dan Derby
Music: Michael Rheault
Director: Rick Hamilton
Reviewer: Tim Koch
What do you get when you cross Some Like It Hot and Anything Goes with drag queens? Fabulous!
That the first scene takes place in Le Merde Hole perfectly sets the tone for this fun, witty, and wonderfully campy new musical.
We meet drag queens (well, one queen and one actor) Laura Lee Handle (Nick Morrett) and Jane Mann (Josh Kenney) as they argue their way through the show’s opening number. After they witness drag superstar Soufflé get shot by mobsters for the necklace she’s wearing, and end up with that same necklace, Laura Lee and Jane take a job on a cruise ship hoping for a change in fortune.
Unluckily for them, brother-and-sister mobster team Betty and Harry (played by the excellent Natalie DePuy and Bryan Seastrom) choose to stow away on the ship. Adding the confusion is Rock Henderson (Adam Kemmerer), a major Hollywood actor trying to keep a low profile, and Sylvia (Jane Aquilina), the cruise coordinator with stardom on the mind. Rounding out the cast are the ship’s owner, Sir Alfred (Cameron Lucas), Sylvia’s assistant Stewey (Owen Wingo), and the four Boys (DaWoyne Hill, AJ Hunsucker, PJ Palmer, and Aaron VanderYacht), who are more keen to be backup dancers than ship workers. As they all come together and everything falls apart, one can’t help but wonder if anyone is really who they say they are.
The sharp wit of the writing shines whether it’s biting commentary, wordplay (the line “I’m falling for a girl in the closet” stands out in particular) or genuine confusion, and is delivered expertly by the cast.
Michael Rheault’s score and Dan Derby’s lyrics perfectly complement each other and are a fitting thematic reimagining of Broadway’s golden age. There are several songs that stand out in the strong score, with “I’m Falling for a Girl,” “Doin’ the Humpa Daisy,” and “I’m So Good (But Oh So Bad)” being particularly enjoyable.
Everyone in Fabulous! gets a chance to shine, a welcome change from some shows that spend too much time focusing on one set of characters. The audience really gets to know everyone, which helps establish a great connection and rapport between audience and character, and makes the show that much more enjoyable.
All the cast is well suited to their rôle, and there are some great standouts. Morrett’s Laura Lee instantly connects with and charms the audience with her quick wit and biting tongue, and is the happy instigator of much of the drama that unfolds. Kenney’s Jane plays the straight girl to Laura Lee, and he portrays the struggles she has about remaining a drag queen with great emotion. Both DePuy and Kemmerer shine in their solos, and PJ Palmer seals the spotlight a few times as the charmingly clueless Boy 3.
Mary Lauren’s choreography fits the tone of the show perfectly, and Kathleen Moriarty’s surprisingly versatile set rises well to the challenges of the many different locations in this show.
Perhaps the only critique is that there are almost too many quips; sometimes funny for the sake of funny should be left out for funny that makes sense within the context of the scene. However overall the show moves at a great pace, and anyone who enjoys and misses the “golden age” will find plenty of that charm in this production.
Fabulous! will leave you smiling from the time the lights come up to well after you leave the theatre, so put on your pumps and wigs and do the Humpa Daisy all the way to the Times Square Arts Center for a gender-bendingly good time!
Runs until: October 27 2014 | Photo Rick Berube