The Cosmic Calamities of Henry Noodle
nytheatre.com review by Lee Ramsey
August 15, 2004
First off, I loved this show! It's fun, it's witty, and it's full of energy. It knows FringeNYC's limitations and it uses them to its advantage. It has intentionally hokey special effects, ranging from the ship's "beaming device" to an ominous alien entity to Henry's beard growth to all of his various mechanical inventions. Along with the very clever book, the music and lyrics are by Tom McCanna and the songs are fun and catchy and unpretentious. The choreograph by Wendy Seyb is hilarious and beautifully executed by the cast.
But the biggest asset this production has going for it is Matt Wilson, the actor who brilliantly portrays our hero, Henry Noodle. He's totally committed to the style of the piece, he has a rubber-band body, an adorable dorky smile, and enough charisma and energy for five people. His acting, singing, "sexy" gyrations, and sense of humor are right on target. And he sorta plays the accordion!
But I digress; let me tell you about the plot. The Cosmic Calamities of Henry Noodle is a sci-fi musical in which lovable loser Henry Noodle escapes the Earth as it explodes and becomes stranded alone in outer space in his ship. On his adventures he meets all sorts of alien creatures and kills them. No, it's funny, really. He also encounters some evil dictators, some sexy vixens, and makes Christmas cookies (and juggles the dough) before he finds true happiness.
The play, which according to the press information is an amalgamation of several short "Henry Noodle" plays, could use more shaping and editing, but it's well on it's way. The only trouble I had with the production was Stephen Tomac's direction. His staging is frequently sloppy and frankly just not imaginative enough for the material, and I didn't feel he always used the other three performers (Ken Kleiber, Meara McIntyre, and Stephanie Sine) to their best advantage. But overall I would highly recommend this production. It's everything a FringeNYC show should be.