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FringeNYC 2005: SUV: The Musical!
by William Stevenson

©2005 Gersh Kuntzman
SUV: The Musical!
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 parked off-Broadway.

SUV: The Musical!
Book by Gersh Kuntzman
Music and Lyrics by Marc Dinkin
Directed by Eric Oleson

Print This Story / Send the Story to a Friend / 8/18/2005 1:31:00 PM


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