The Only Thing Straight is My Jacket
nytheatre.com review by Sharon Fogarty
August 15, 2004
Rarely do we appreciate the fact that many romantic love songs from musicals were written by gay male composers and lyricists to their lovers, only to show up on stage sung by a woman. Imagine if you dare, the cumulative rage of these numerous lovers of Andrew Lippa, Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and others, snowballed into one complete nut case, Micah!, portrayed pathologically by Micah Bucey. The Only Thing STRAIGHT is my JACKET, written by Paul Hagen, is a musical review of ten well-chosen songs, complete with hilarious monologues expressing their homosexual inspirations. Under the Hitchcockian direction of Paul Mazza, Micah! enters screaming, flinching, choking, and twitching, complete with straight-jacket, guards, and a psychiatrist. His fierce, head-to-toe-clenched, explosive energy lasts for almost the entire play. Accompanied by the sweet mute Drew? (Andrew Edwards) at the piano, whose musical comebacks are astonishingly understandable, Micah! proclaims himself as a "Homosexual Immortal" who has suffered for eons the heart-ripping thievery of women who has stolen songs that were meant for him.
Bucey keeps the audience riveted—like rodents pinned to electrodes and forced to watch bad TV—with one eye on the nearest exit. Although the text is, well, hysterical, I felt the audience was heavily concerned as to the well-being of this actor, who actually draws blood from his own neck with his fingernails while serenading an audience member. This might have been an accident but, when splashed, it looked and felt like real blood, sweat, and tears—oh, and enough hair goop to hold the moon in orbit.
About two-thirds into the play, Micah! gets a welcome shot in the ass by his shrink, performed to perfection by Briana Mandel, and once he is sedated, we finally see the beauty that is Micah Bucey. An angel of gayness with an endearing high baritone voice, a compassionate and generous solo performer, particularly in his dreamy rendition of Menken and Ashman’s "Somewhere That’s Green."
If you don’t mind the schizophrenic presentation and the basic danger involved in being nuzzled by a psycho, you’ll enjoy the demonic "Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)" by Cole Porter, a virtuoso "Losing My Mind" by Stephen Sondheim, and the supernatural "Tom" by Michael John LaChiusa.
Perhaps there's a more sugarcoated way to relay this social dilemma than this Liberace-on-acid approach, but if Bucey has the calories and arteries to run this show beyond the Fringe, I could see a handsome following of similarly jacketed rebels. It's very funny and the audience really bonded, especially out of fear for the poor, sweet girl in the front row of the audience who Micah! pretended to strangle during one of his more out-of-control moments.