Knee-deep puns, and at times slyly higher, in Shucked , a new musical comedy that combines the winking humor of The Green Acres and Hee Haw with the decidedly irreverent and slightly subversive camp that fuels the scene. in the 90s with gritty stuff like Merciless!, The Real Live Brady Bunch , and Theater-A-Go!-Go! Parody of the Valley of the Puppets .
The musical hinges on its uncommon, if honest, spiritual DNA, or, for that matter, the combined and varied talents of writer Robert Horne and composers Brandi Clark and Shane McAnally.
Consider that genealogy for a moment: Horne won a Tony for Tootsie 2019 and has written for Dame Edna, Designing Women , Bette Midler, and RuPaul. Clark and McAnally have amassed a string of CMAs, Grammys, and country hits. Together, the three are a band made in a whimsical Broadway dreamland, and when a quick joke elicits a groan almost as much as a laugh, the relationship can't help but be short on hilarity and goofy charm.
Directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien ( Hairspray, Henry IV, Utopia Coast ) and produced by Mike Bosner and Jason Owen, Shaked has a pretty clear plot. : Set in the woods of Corn Cobb County in the Red State of America, the musical tells the story of local residents who are so devoted to the yellow pods of their life force that it is unthinkable to do without them. Since Ireland in the 19th century was unthinkable without potatoes. See where it goes?
When an illness causes the corn kernels to dry out and the stalks wither, a dashing bride-to-be named Maisie – named, of course… Bo, played by Head Over Heels ' fabulous Andrew Duran, experiences farming culture, which she does. sure he'll find big city Tampa (the place to go when, as one text says, "you can't afford Orlando or Savannah").
Ashley D. Kelly, Gray Henson (Photos: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)
Maisie (Caroline Innerbichler, whose smooth voice and soft vibrato strikes a nice balance between country and showbiz anthem) soon falls under the influence of a smooth-talking, overworked (and green-clad) orthopedic surgeon named Gordie Jackson ( Tootsie ). curvaceous rising star John Bellman, his charm equals his height). If you suspect Maisie might be confused with the vernacular orthopedic sign "Doctor Corn," you'd be right.
We had been warned by the show's two narrators – a hipster duo of black woman and white gay man (Ashley D. Kelly, Gray Henson), each outmaneuvering the other to astonishing effect – that Maisie's bracelet, with its mysterious jewel, would play role in the plot. And now, desperate for cash, he stares at knick-knacks and turns his con on naïve Maisie, who says Corncob County is full of purple rocks.
Back home, a distraught Maisie and her newly minted gold digger come into conflict with townspeople who are skeptical of the city's front lines, especially the hard-nosed, whiskey-loving but earnest cousins Beau and Maisie Lulu (Alex Newell). Soon there will be no end to the ridiculous ambiguity – romance and fortune – with despair, complicity, all is well that ends well, the couple is sure to come as next spring's harvest.
The "Shucked" cast (Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)
Shucked is mostly set in Scott Pascoe's expansive barn set (which is evidently due to Jaffi Weidemann's colorful lighting design), crowded and then packed, with moans and laughter deliberately detached from itself. snippets of dad jokes, puns, and self-made life lessons, many of which come from Bo's dimwitted brother Peanuts ( Monarch 's Kevin Cahoon). They're probably better played than read, but here goes:
– Like the time I cut down that Christmas tree and you asked me to put it up. And I said no, I'll probably hang it in the living room.'
"As one personal trainer said to a lazy client, 'It doesn't work.'
"We all know by now that life is a constant balancing act between wondering why you weren't invited to something and wondering how to get out of it."
Some lines are better than others – Lulu Newell's line seems the best ("A wise woman said… something wiser than a man ever did") – and the game does better in the second half (it does), or it just doesn't. no hearing loss. desire to fight (they do), Shucked will truly punish us.
As for the musical portion of the recipe, Clarke-McAnally's score isn't as mixed as it is one-sided, with too many heartfelt lead ballads, especially in the slower first half. Both Innerbichler and Durand are attractive and catchy singers, but they have too much repetition.
Maybe that's one reason, but only one, why Newell ( The Chorus , Once Upon a Time on Broadway) nearly stole Shucked with his star-studded, finger-snapping, rafter-filled Independent Owned. easily the crowd – favorites of the first half – clap midway through the song – although the more coherent second act features a more substantial sequence that elicited applause (and which includes some cleverly choreographed Sarah's passages at O' Grond). , and Bo van Durand pulls off some impressive balance moves on barrels and aces).
When all is said and done, Shucked is only fun when you make it. Go with it and enjoy the corn.
Title: Shucked Place: Nederlander Theater on Broadway Director: Jack O'Brien Book: Robert Horne Music: Brandi Clarke and Shane McAnally Starring: John Bellman, Kevin Cahoon, Andrew Duran, Gray Henson, Caroline. Duration Alex Newell: 2 hours 15 minutes (including breaks)
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