"WE’RE FROM THE FIFTIES!"
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
The premise of "We’re from the Fifties!", a concert-cum-musical
comedy written and performed by Al Del Bene and Brett Duggan, is that a
rock duo called The Extra-Ordinaries has traveled in time from the 1950s
to the present day. Here, presumably unscathed by the events and changes
of five decades, Sal and Rusty perform a concert at the fictional Gemini
Theatre, showcasing their "bad-boy" hits from long ago.
August 15, 2002
Del Bene and Duggan tell us in the show’s program that they’re going for "politically incorrect satire." What that translates to here is putting naughty lyrics to classic rock & roll tunes, with sentiments like "my mother is a bitch" and "my girlfriend is a crack whore." Recognizing the one-joke nature of this premise, Del Bene and Duggan shift gears quickly (if inexplicably), having their duo perform their 50s-inflected takes on contemporary genres like gangsta’ rap (with Duggan in his underwear) and, more promisingly, alternative music (a song about choices—see the dictionary). They also bring out a couple of special guests—Sal’s hermaphrodite brother/sister "Flip" (Duggan in a dress, low-cut to reveal his ample chest hair), and, in the show’s best number, Harry Connick, Jr. (providing Del Bene with an opportunity to do a dead-on impersonation, performing "Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off" with a clever parody lyric about the Catholic church).
Del Bene reveals real flair in this Connick number; one wonders if he has other singers in his repertory. Duggan is a mean guitarist, meanwhile, and throws himself with manic energy into everything that happens in the show.
The writing in "We’re from the Fifties!" is the weak link, unfortunately; the faux lyrics are mostly sophomoric and have neither bite nor point or view. At the performance attended, the show’s running time was just 30 minutes, significantly cut from the announced hour-and-a-half; whether that’s a purely artistic decision or due to some other cause, it’s a wise choice: it doesn’t seem likely that The Extra-Ordinaries could sustain a longer set. Del Bene and Duggan come across as talented performers; I hope they can come up with some more interesting material for their next gig.