Underwear; A Space Musical
nytheatre.com review by Ethan Angelica
August 12, 2008
Mind control. Robots. World domination. Attractive men and women in their skivvies. That was enough to send 12 of my friends into an emailing frenzy to be the one to join me for Underwear: A Space Musical at FringeNYC. However, if you're not hooked already, perhaps it's worth mentioning that this fluffy, campy, zany, hysterically funny pop tuner is also really, really, "blastin'"-ly good.
Set in "the not-so-distant but inconceivable future," Underwear follows Dottie Smalltown as she flees her home planet (yes, planet) of Ohio and heads to the moxie-filled world of fashion at Patty's Panties, the top of underwear chic. There she finds underwear models, food in pill form, and treachery. All is not well, as owner Patricia is engaged in a plot to take over the world with her Erectric 3000 underwear brain-control system. Dottie, along with her model friends, creates a plan to thwart Patricia's scheme, all while the girl gets the boy, a robot finds himself, justice is served, and hilarity ensues. It's exactly what you expect from a show where most of the cast is running around in only their briefs (items that are wonderfully envisioned by costume designer Sara McLoud, I might add).
It's amazing to me that the writing team of Heidi Ervin and Brandon James Gwinn is so new to this field. Besides a song or two that runs a bit long, a clunky lyric here and there, and a little too much exposition at the end, the show feels tight and smart. Gwinn's score is a fresh pop sound (with enough nods to classic musicals to keep any snob happy), and Ervin's lyrics compliment it with gleeful wit. There is a definite feeling of humble beginnings with this show, a good idea just waiting to be exploited, and Ervin and Gwinn have certainly brought it to delightfully outlandish fruition. Under Joe Barros's direction and choreography (including a great robot dance break), the show soars forward, and the audience never stops laughing and, with orchestrator Jon Balcourt and vocal arranger Taylor Bridges, it's a team effort that makes this "the little show that does."
The cast is exceptional across the board. Adam Enright is a knockout as the conflicted, Heelys-wearing manservant robot Wang Hung, bringing down the house with his "I Only Answer to Me." Gisela Adisa is superbly evil as Patricia, and rules the stage with her rapper styling and her ferocious belt. As the pair of comic lovers, Jonathan Whitton and Cait Doyle make a dynamic duo, and Courtney Cowart's commanding performance as the aging model Dylan Dior is delicious. A tight ensemble rounds out this incredible cast, with special kudos to Tony Daussat and Kieron Cindric, whose turns as the lovably lusty Moon and Beam still make me chuckle.
Don't let Underwear: A Space Musical blast off without seeing it while it's here at the Fringe! It's far too much fun to be missed.