The Gay Agenda
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 8, 2010
The Gay Agenda is Micah Bucey and Nicholas Williams. Micah is the tall one with spikey hair who usually is standing up. Nicholas is the not-quite-as-tall one with shorter hair who is usually seated at a piano. That, at least, is the arrangement at Great Big Broadway Show, one of two musical extravaganzas being presented by TGA at Ars Nova this month (the other is Songstyles of the Queer and Famous).
The important takeaway from this show is that Micah and Nicholas are VERY TALENTED young men. Nicholas plays beautifully; they sing and harmonize like dreams; Micah—who plays the trumpet, narrates the entire show, and impersonates Nell Carter in one sketch—can apparently do just about everything. They also serve cookies before the show starts (chocolate chip, homemade, and very tasty at the performance I attended).
The premise of the show is that Micah and Nicholas, in an attempt to impress their way onto the Broadway stage, have written a series of mini-musicals, three of which they present for us. The subjects and styles are nothing if not eclectic: "This Time, It's Personal" is based on Jaws IV and boasts a lesbian love affair between Roy Scheider's widow and the shark; it reminds us a bit of the mega-musicals of Lloyd Webber and others. "Laceration Vacation" is about "Homoteen," who likes to cut himself, and his adventures in a mental institution; the dense wordplay of the lyrics evokes Sondheim. "Little Stitches" is a strange update of Annie (which explains the presence of Nell Carter, who, musical theatre aficionados will recall, starred as Miss Hannigan in the not-so-successful 1997 Broadway revival).
These three 10-ish-minute musicals are not quite parodies, however; this is not Forbidden Broadway. Instead, they're weird, eccentric creations blending postmodern irony with a broad pop culture vocabulary whose references and allusions I admit I didn't always get. They tend to be clever more than witty, but the presentation—guided by director Josh Hecht—is nevertheless endearing, thanks to the sincere and raw talent of the performers and the low-impact, low-key production values (which consist chiefly of a toy theatre with pasted-on backdrops that Micah calls their Periaktoi).
There's banter and musical numbers in between the three musicals, and also a socko finale (which is a parody, of Elton John musicals on Broadway; very funny), as well as a brief interlude paying tribute to Mama Cass Elliott ("Make Your Own Kind of Music" has been stuck in my head for a week now; thanks, guys).
The evening portends great things for/from this duo, and I hope they will continue to hone their prodigious talents and develop them in new and unexpected ways in the future.