The Maestrosities: The Coolest Band Ever!
nytheatre.com review by Melanie N. Lee
October 24, 2007
Ironically billed as "The World's Coolest Band," the Maestrosities clown troupe provides an entertaining hour of a goofball concert laced with sight gags and verbal quips. Two women and four men on accordion, clarinet, ukulele, tuba, trumpet, and stainless steel spoons play hit songs over the decades from "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" to "Material Girl."
Maestro, the bespectacled leader on ukulele, sings "I Ought to Be in Pictures" while his wife Deirdre, a frustrated would-be opera diva, argues, "I don't think that song describes you very well; it's about someone handsome…" Princess Pennie, a diminutive accordionist in a pink tutu, flirts with an elderly man in the audience. Aldo, described as a parolee sentenced to playing spoons with the band as community service, first appears running through the stage and the audience in a straitjacket, shouting expletives. Aldo sings "Eye of the Tiger" while doffing the straitjacket and using its belt as a whip. Louis Uggler, the nerdy trumpeter, is nearly invisible (though I learned the clown/musician who plays Louis had an admirer in the audience). Chauncey, the soft-spoken tuba player, has his moments when he begins the show blasting "Also Sprach Zarathustra," and later when an American flag springs from his tuba during "God Bless America." Sprinkled throughout are impressive tricks such as juggling ukuleles, and gags such as handing an audience member a set list written on a napkin, with which Aldo later wipes his sweaty forehead.
All the performers play their instruments well and clown quite admirably. Jenny Lee Mitchell as Deirdre gets to show off her classical stylings. Gina Samardge, who dances and has a good voice, stands out as the flirtatious Princess Pennie, as does Glen Heroy as the loud, explosive, powerfully-voiced Aldo. David Gochfeld as Maestro is a humorous, striking sight, but his voice is often too soft to carry over the instruments, a fault occasionally shared by Samardge. For a bandleader, the clown Maestro isn't front-and-center often enough. Rounding out the cast are Rod Kimball as Louis and Andy Sapora as Chauncey.
Although the show was entertaining, I kept wishing the performers had a little more verve, more oomph, and the show more cohesiveness and a more obvious plot line. After all, one goes to the theatre expecting a play, not a mere concert. The promotional materials, which I saw but the audience didn't, promised a dramatic build and climax that just didn't happen. The promos also said the Maestrosities are developing a play from their characters, and they certainly have raw material for a good one-act play. With mostly well-performed, comically-twisted songs that, unlike musical theatre songs, don't advance the plot, a clown play interwoven with a concert will probably need more time to unfold than the hour the Maestrosities had in this show.