It's probably clear from the title — "The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) — that if you like musicals, you'll like this show. If you prefer to make fun of musical-theater conventions — the divas, the plot repetition, the corniness — this nifty collection of song parodies has plenty for you, as well.
The cleverness of "The Musical of Musicals" lies in how well it points out the foibles and shortcomings of musicals, all the while embracing and celebrating the art form. And haters, be warned: The zesty performances in Winter Park Playhouse's snappy production may just convert you.
But the entertainment value, as in many actual musicals, lies not in the flimsy story but in the presentation. Writers Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart parody five composers (or teams); the inherent compliment is that those styles are immediately recognizable.
Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander & Ebb all get spoofed. The writers expect the audience to keep up, so I suspect some references fly over patrons' heads. (I had almost forgotten that Kander & Ebb wrote the music for "Kiss of the Spider Woman.")
But Michael Edwards' direction doesn't let the gags slow. Can't place why "Where's that boy with the bagel?" is funny in the Jerry Herman section? No worries, we're onto a Carol Channing "Hello Dolly!" joke.
The cast has an easy camaraderie — the same four actors performed in the show in a Jester Theatre production a few years back.
Natalie Cordone and Todd Allen Long are the appealing heroine and hero, especially fighting their obvious attraction in "I Don't Love You." As in many a musical, the supporting character players get to make a bigger splash: Kate O'Neal is equally funny as an almost opera-singing Mother Abby with shades of "The Sound of Music," and a world-weary German call girl seeking "An Easy Mark."
Eyes flashing, Kevin Kelly makes the most of the showiest parts: He's a mad killer a la Sweeney Todd, a mask-wearing Phantom and a deliciously slinky, sexually ambiguous host at a sleazy cabaret.
At its best, the show slips in sly commentary on the composers themselves. During an ode to corn in the Rodgers & Hammerstein segment, Long sings "What's this in my tooth? It's a kernel of truth." O'Neal's diva in the Herman section proclaims, "It's more than enough when you just entertain."
The Lloyd Webber section, with phantom and chandelier jokes, and Kander & Ebb sequence mocking "Chicago" and "Cabaret" get the biggest laughs — maybe because they are easiest to mock visually.
Oh, and the bagel line: It's a play off a memorable lyric about a boy with a bugle in "Mame."
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•What: 'The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)'
•Where: Winter Park Playhouse, 711-C Orange Ave., Winter Park
•When: Through Aug. 28, then Sept. 9-17: 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 2 & 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; also, 2 p.m. Aug. 28, Sept. 11 & Sept. 15
•Tickets: $38; $35 seniors; $28 matinees; $20 for students and entertainment-industry professionals
Theater review: 'The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)' from Winter Park Playhouse
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