nytheatre.com review by Akia Squitieri
August 16, 2006
Walmartopia is a quintessential FringeNYC show, delivering everything that you want to see in an alterna-musical: quirky musical numbers, bright eyed cast members, and a rousing story. Rarely does a show with this much pre-Fringe hype live up to the expectations, but Walmartopia triumphs.
In Walmartopia, we are introduced to Vicki, a hapless Wal-Mart employee who is trying to work her way up the Wal-Mart ladder, battling sexism and low pay while raising her daughter alone. In a madcap attempt to save their image, the Wal-Mart Execs decide to make Vicki the "face of Wal-Mart." She discovers an ugly secret and they send her through an experimental time machine into a future where Wal-Mart has taken over the world. Here we see the scary possibilities of a country governed by corporations, and even worse a land run with the smiley face of Wal-Mart. She soon saves the fate of humanity and returns home with a new-found love. (Don't worry, there are lots of little surprises I left out for you to see for yourself).
The cast is very good, creating lovable characters and some shining moments. Everywoman Vicki is played with skillful determination by Anna Jayne Marquardt. Douglas Holtz as Sam Walton's head provides some hysterical entertainment. Frank Furillo as the evil Scott Lee, is a consistent show stopper, providing everything you could want in a singing villain. The huge ensemble is truly wonderful, with some especially stellar performances by Jake Jacobson, Kelly Kiorpes, Joe Hammes, Stefanie Nicole Resnick, and Kristy Wilson.
Andrew Rohn's (musical director, producer and co-writer) and Catherine Capaellaro's (director, producer and co-Writer) musical numbers are impressive and witty. Some of the many musical highlights are the opening number "Wal-Mart," which is sung by the enchanting chorus; the laugh-out-loud funny "Nibbled to Death by Guppies," led by the brilliant Furillo;"A Woman's Place is at Wal-Mart," sung by the female cast members; the title song "Walmartopia," also by the ensemble; and "We Hate Freedom," sung by Kelly Kiorpres, Joe Hammes, Mikhael A. Farah, and Anna Jayne Marquardt.
Rohn and Capaellaro maneuver a large cast through intricate musical numbers with skill. Their script and production provides thought-provoking material in a way that makes you pay attention, think, and all along enjoy the ride. Anyone wishing to convey a powerful message in a fun way should take some cues from this talented duo.
I'll be very surprised if Walmartopia doesn't make it "big", so be sure to go out and see it now, so you can say "Walmartopia, oh I saw it when." This is a delightfully fun show, one that is not to be missed in this year's Fringe.