Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical
nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
August 20, 2010
First of all, if you haven't read Michael Crichton's novel or seen Steven Spielberg's blockbuster film of a similar name: SPOILER ALERT. But believe me, seeing this show is totally worth ruining the film.
In the grand tradition of Urinetown and Avenue Q, FringeNYC brings us Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical. I compare it with these renowned musicals because it has the same off-kilter, self-deprecating humor spliced with a true and meaningful message that is so rare in musicals these days.
Our narrator, Morgan Freeman, played with amazing comic timing and charisma by Lee Seymour, who is also remarkably unlike Morgan Freeman, takes us on a journey following the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park and the identity crisis they each have as they experience "life finding a way." So what is the "Q" for? It is for "question" (and possibly helps avoid copyright infringement...) and these dinosaurs have quite a few. Since their birth from the infamous Jurassic Park petri dishes, the Velociraptor of Faith, played brilliantly by John Jeffrey, has formed a church worshipping the Laboratory Deity. All of them are female...at first. As we all know the frog DNA starts them to gender-shifting all over the place which can be very confusing for a dinosaur. The Velociraptor of Faith has banished her twin sister, The Velociraptor of Science, played by Mary Ellen Ashley who executes the always hilarious "raunchy, rapping granny" routine beautifully. It seems Velociraptor of Science has some questions about this Laboratory Deity and questions cannot be tolerated, but once the changes start, Velociraptor of Faith doesn't have any answers and soon everyone is having an identity crisis, even Morgan Freeman who, much to his dismay, is continuously confused with Samuel L. Jackson.
The book is smart, the music is fun, and even the campy choreography by Kyle Mullins is a perfect fit for this musical. The show is packed with puns, callback jokes, and, my personal favorite, bits from Mime-a-Saurus, the spectacular Brandon Espinoza. I was especially impressed when he mimed an entire epic drama during their power ballad. It was golden. The ensemble is stellar with great voices and specific movement choices. Natalie Bradshaw shines as T-Rex 2, the first to discover her new genitalia. Writer/director Marshall Pailet has a handle on the piece that only a co-creator could have and the show goes off beautifully.
The best way to watch this show is to just suspend your disbelief and go with it because you are in good hands with this group. Writers Emma Barash, Stephen Wargo, Bryce Norbitz, and Marshall Pailet have created something really amazing here and I would love to see what could be done with it on a Broadway budget. I can whole heartedly admit that this is the most fun I've ever had at a Fringe show. I laughed for almost the entire performance and so did my theatre-going companions. Go see it and have your funny bone tickled and your faith challenged. You won't be sorry you did.