|FringeNYC 2005: SUV: The
by William Stevenson
Parody musicals aren't exactly scarce at this
year's Fringe Festival. Neither are titles bearing the words "the
musical." Like other Fringe productions before it, SUV: The
Musical! wants to be the next Urinetown, which famously
journeyed from the Fringe to Broadway. This SUV may not
travel that far, but it's still a zippy little show.
Featuring a silly yet smartly satirical book by Gersh Kuntzman,
who plays a judge, this musical joyride often feels like a college
revue. That's not surprising, since Marc Dinkin, who wrote the music
and lyrics and serves as musical director, won an award for a rock
opera he wrote at Harvard. His lyrics are witty, if at times
verbose. Here's a sample line from the catchy, Beach Boys-esque "My
Little Ugo": "True, my little Yugo won't survive a big crash/But
your SUV will roll over and you'll get whiplash." Exemplifying the
show's silly side, another ditty is called "Dick, Have Some Balls."
The Dick in question to is Dick Johnson (Christian Maurice),
whose company is making bigger and bigger SUVs. The behemoths have
names like the Deforester and the Defiler. Dick is about to unveil
"the first extremely large vehicle," the Destroyer, which will seat
11 adults. "I don't even know 10 people," says Spiros (Kenny Wade
Marshall), one of Johnson's three marketing executives who make up a
mock Greek chorus. The other two are Demos (Stephanie Roy) and
Christos (Chris Griggs).
Johnson lives in a mcmansion boasting three garages with his pert
wife Sarah (Dina Plotch) and bleeding-heart daughter Jennifer (Jen
Kersey). Jennifer's funny solo number is "I Wish I Was in India
(Starving)." Taking on Johnson and his bloated vehicles is
environmentalist Max Blank (Adam Wolfsdorf). The actors who play
Johnson's staff double as Blank's coworkers; they later triple as
toadying reporters from automobile magazines.
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Driving his coworkers in his tiny Yugo,
Blank sings of how "Nervous (Very Nervous)" he is to share the
highway with hulking gas-guzzlers. Sure enough, he collides with the
SUV driven by Sarah Johnson, who later says she couldn't see Blank's
car because it was too small.
The cast sings energetically and well. Plotch, Wolfsdorf and
Kersey are standouts. But let's not forget Jerry Miller, who
displays a fine voice as Mr. 92, a crash-test dummy. He and another
dummy (Matt Knight) earn laughs for their robotic movements when
they change scenery and eventually get their own subplot.
Timely though it is, SUV: The Musical! won't make
Americans stop buying environmentally unfriendly megacars or
influence our government's foreign policy. But with a little
tightening, this cute Yugo of a musical could become a sleek BMW
SUV: The Musical!
Book by Gersh Kuntzman
and Lyrics by Marc Dinkin
Directed by Eric
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Friend / 8/18/2005 1:31:00 PM |