Review – Blink Again! (turn on the lights) – Above the Stag Theatre

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It’s been two times lucky with the Blink series at the Above the Stag theater, and I wasn’t about to miss a chance to see the third round of this series of songs from musicals people loved to hate. The format is songs performed with small intros as to their provenance, enhanced this time with a digital projection showing pictures of the appropriate cast album cover or program.

Unfortunately this round just wasn’t as fresh as it could have been – too many shows were rehashed for my tastes (Grand Hotel, “I Want to Go to Hollywood;” Moby Dick, “A Whale of a Tale;” The Rink, “Colored Lights;” Children of Eden, “Wasteland”), decreasing the sense of discovery and wonder previous productions had imbued. Even the same songs were being rehashed, which I found particularly irritating given my feelings about Drowsy Chaperone‘s “As We Stumble Along.” However, there was a movement toward organanizing the songs in a more thematic way, which led to a pile of fun mocking the Disney enterprise (yes sure Lion King is still going wild but nobody’s crying about the unfortunate fates of Tarzan – represented by “You’ll Be in my Heart” – and the Little Mermaid, “Part of Your World” and “Under the Sea”) with new, camp versions well suited to a fringe venue (and didn’t Ashley Martin look fetching in his spotted tunic). We also had a fab disco interlude that hit Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens (“All I Need is Disco,” I forgive them for doing a repeat in this case as the musical itself is so terrible I was thrilled not to have to sit through it), Flashdance (“Gloria”) and 9 to 5 (theme song), ending with the entire cast (men included ) parading around stage in giant blonde wigs. I loved it!

The height of brilliance, though, was in their perfect sendup of Kneehigh Theater’s Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a show which I enjoyed but was so … misdirected (I think it was overpriced and overlong) that it made it only 40 some performances before closing. They ripped not just the bizarre performance of cabaret performer Meow Meow, but the entire premise of the show … in a manner that seemed to me very Forbidden Broadway-esque. It was all just so fresh it stung … and I loved it. Maybe, I am thinking, that where this show should focus is on the much more recent flops – God only knows I was expecting a mechanical pig to show up on stage any minute – and go for a performance that’s far punchier. The frequent references to another mega-flop (which I’ll keep a secret) made for a gag that kept me giggling all the way through – why not mock Greenland too, and for that matter all of the other shows that deserve a good swift kick for being expensive, badly cast, poorly thought out, and generally a waste of time? Hell, I’d sign up for that! I don’t want to discount the joy of hearing songs from Which Witch (they were great) or Batboy, but if there aren’t enough musicals to stick with the theme, I say change the theme and go for a better show.

Still, it was £14 and I had a good evening, the cast was talented, and the few songs I hated were short. Overall, this was a good evening and I do recommend it to the musical geeks out there.

(This reveiw is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011. It continues through July 2nd.)

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