THE RECIPE is simple enough: Combine one part humor with three parts bombast, mix in a double dose of double entendre and two bushels of fake boobs. Sprinkle liberally with groaning-bad puns, then leave in a hot theatre until half-baked.
Voila, another edition of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
The 1991 Pudding show, Safari Sagoodi, is a testament to what a few talented undergraduates can do with just their imagination, a little pluck and a $300,000 budget. And a professional director. And a professional choreographer. And a professional set designer, music supervisor, lighting director and costume designer. And two professional music arrangers. (Did we mention imagination and a little pluck?)
What they can do is a lot--a lot of pyrotechnics, a lot of snickering sexual innuendo and a whole stage full of boisterous entertainment.
Yes, the Pudding show is entertaining. Face it, you're not going there for an Aristotelian evocation of cathartic pity and fear. You're going there to hear bawdy jokes and to see your male classmates in drag.
And you will. Safari Sagoodi fulfills that mandate and more.
SET IN 1940S HOLLYWOOD, the Golden Age of the Silver Screen, Safari Sagoodi follows the travails of Tinsel-town's "most inept film factory," the Stu-Stu Studio, as it plunges toward bank-bank bankruptcy. The studio's ruthless Head Honcha, Annette Prophet (Glenn Kiser '91) has given her staff one more chance to crank out a blockbuster before the studio's creditors shut it down.
For the final fling, she has brought in the famed British "introspectionist" director Lyce Cameron Aixion (Andrew Dietderich '91) and a crew of has-beens and never-will-be's to produce a script written by Wellesley grad and former romance novelist Ella Menopy (Laurence O'Keefe '91). Between the ineptness of the camera operator and the devious schemes of some ambitious, back-stabbing thespians, the movie "Safari Sagoodi" appears doomed to failure.
Can Lyce keep his cast from killing each other? Will the film get made? Will the cameraman (Shelby Kamanrandamantan, played by John Ducey '91) ever successfully seduce the sexy secretary (Heidi Hydiehydiehi, played by Ian Henderson '93)? Will the Stu-Stu Studio survive?
Give us a break. Of course they will. But only after a few plot twists that, unfortunately, are not quite as humorous as they are contrived. ("Plot" in Pudding shows is just a euphemism for "getting from one musical number to the next," just as "dialogue" is just the words that fill in the spaces between the puns.)
SAFARI SAGOODI is proof of the saying that you get what you pay for. Those elements of the show that were bought on the open market were unavoidably outstanding. The costumes and sets were diverse and eye-catchingly extravagant. The music captured the flavor of 1940s cinema. The choreography betrayed its professional origins: It included two performers dangling by their ankles from the ceiling, another sailing across the stage in apparent flight, and a winsome scene of Heidi dancing with a coat tree.
Three solid weeks of rehearsal under the tutelage of a professional director produced an imaginative, slick and well-oiled show. The pit orchestra, too, was smoothly integrated into the production. The result was a pretty solid cast and pretty good script leveraged into a first-rate production.
Danny Singer '92 is appropriately slimy as leading man Mel O'Drama. With his slicked back hair, slicker voice and perfectly trimmed moustache, Singer plays God's gift to the world with a natural arrogance that only a Harvard student needn't affect.
Jason Tomarken '91 is convincing as Barbara Seville, O'Drama's getting-past-her-prime leading lady who stands about a foot taller than Singer, to humorous effect. Tomarken is one of the few female parts who masters the art of feminine mannerisms.
Glenn Kessler '92 plays Maximillian Bucks, the gruff producer with a South Side accent. Like Ed McMahon, Kessler is condemned by this script to be the set-up guy--a great personality and few funny lines.