CENTRALIA PRESENTS GENERICA
nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
Centralia is absolutely amazing! Their show, Centralia Presents
Generica, is an astoundingly well-thought-out, well-done, hilarious
musical. Probably the only way to do this show justice would be to end
every sentence in this review with an exclamation point. It honestly
doesn’t get much better than this!
August 15, 2002
It starts out with six completely different, unrelated scenes, each played one right after another. First are three miners in Centralia, Pennsylvania, where an underground mine fire has been burning for 40 years and is predicted to burn for another 100. Then there is the thrice-widowed Mrs. Carmichael and the young delivery boy Wallace, both Centralia inhabitants. Next come three New Jersey housepainters who used to be part of a circus when they were back in Russia. After that are Dave and Sharon with their marital and office problems. Next come the couch potato Pothead and his mother. Lastly are a sergeant and two soldiers as they prepare to jump out of a plane into the middle of a war zone. Interspersed among these are one very large bird, a Yeti, and a Buddhist monk-turned-coffee house cashier. As the show progresses, all of these seemingly unrelated scenes slowly come together. You never see it coming, or know how it is going to happen, but you can always rely on it being clever, side-splitting, and downright astonishing.
All of the characters are played by three amazing performers (who also co-wrote the show): Matt Higgins, Jay Rhoderick, and Kevin Scott. Aside from their great acting skills, each also engages in Russian dances, gymnastics and song. The music, written by composer/pianist Joshua Sitron is quite catchy; days later, you find yourself singing "War is nothing to be afraid of/It’s just people killing other people." (Just make sure you don’t sing too loud, or you’ll start getting funny looks.)
The technical aspects of the show—costumes, set, and multimedia—are also ingenious. Each actor comes equipped with only a jumpsuit and two brightly colored scarves, however in their hands it seems there is no limit to the possibilities of those items. The set is a jumble of mobile metal rods which becomes anything from a coffee-bar to scaffolding to a giant jungle gym. Projected on a screen, Barbie dolls play news anchors, little toy soldiers go to war, and math symbols pop up during a musical number.
And believe it or not, Centralia Presents Generica, along with all of its creativity and humor, also contains an anti-war message. The show has everything—go see it! It’s an amazing experience and you’ll come out beaming.