A recipe for dinner the evening you attend the Hasty Pudding Show: lots of protein. Lots of drink. And lots of helium. Because if you are feeling silly, the Pudding's silliness will make you feel vindicated. But if you are feeling serious, as last year's outgoing editorial chair appeared to be when he wrote this review, you will run away screaming, never to return.
Having dined on wine, salad and chocolate cake last Thursday, I was in the proper mood to enjoy "Me and My Galaxy," which was characterized by catchy music, showy sets, stunning costumes, a rollicking band, zippy choreography, the usual dastardly puns and men in short skirts. The plot (plot?) limped once in a while, and the singers sometimes could not make themselves heard over the band, but the energy of the actors and the pulse of the music lifted the play from these occasional doldrums.
Many of the characters were inherently funny: a buff but sensitive astronaut named Jed Eyenite (Darin P. Goulet '97), a thpitting thucker named Sally Vader (Danton S. Char '98), an arch-browed failed villainness named Irma Geddon (Jesse J. Hawkes '99) and a nerdy Bob Marley named Cal Ipsobeat (Robert E. Schlesinger '00). Not to mention the undeniable show-stealer by virtue of costume, Hugh Jegg (Jason R. Mills '99), an enormous specimen of the ovarian persuasion who did a mean Philip Marlowe imitation.
The music, composed by Amy M. Brown '97 and Rashida Jones '97, glided from genre to genre, alighting on reggae, torch and the Beach Boys. The songs did not drag, and with their clever lyrics, they kept the audience on its toes. Particularly amusing were "I Like to Play With Dolls," a quasi-ballad sung by Jed Eyenite, with its hero's admission that whenever there are brawls, "I'll be skipping 'round my garden, twirling parasols"; "Stick Out Your Chest," an ensemble number with lines like "You gotta pucker your lips,/ Throw out your tush,/ And shake your hips," and choreography to match (imagine a huge egg sticking out its, um, tush); and "I Am Not Adroit at Love," a torch song performed by 2N2N2R6 (Andrew A. Burlinson '97), a maladroit droid who laments, "I wanted his heart but he gave me his mouse."
The sets were appropriately largescale and colorful, with a retrofuturistic spaceship and a powerfully suggestive open-jawed entrance to the Duchess Tisimmense's lair. The costumes were spectacular, especially the metallic droids', Hugh Jegg's and the Duchess' with its immense accoutrements.
The band performed with gusto throughout the long show, and it seemed especially to enjoy the medley at the end which combined popular melodies from the past 50 years.
The choreography was riddled with a sense of humor, from the "Jamaican Me Crazy" number with its infectious enthusiasm to the de rigeur final chorus line.
And the puns took on a life of their own. Consider Cal Ipsobeat's confession that as an un-hip Jamaican, he thought dreadlocks (which he sports) was a lousy bagel spread. Or a crew member's observation that the gold C3PO knockoff Mike Rosoft (Geoff Oxnard '99) is Excel-lent. Or Sally Vader's encouragement to Hugh Jegg to "Just keep your sunny side up and maybe this will all go over easy!" Not to mention the endless hard-boiled detective references and Star Wars ripoffs.
As a senior, I am glad I finally attended a production of the Pudding, if only to catch a glimpse of the culture that exists behind the words "men in drag." Where else can you see a chorus line reminiscent of Radio City Music Hall with men who, in high heels and bustiers, can pass for mildly attractive women? Where but the Pudding can you understand the cultural significance of Howard Stern's promoting his new movie on David Letterman wearing a blond wig and nylons? Where else but the Pudding, a Harvard institution by dint of being an institution and the nation's oldest the atrical company? Eat well (for the Hasty Pudding recipe, check out Lydia Maria Child's The Frugal Housewife, 1832), drink liberally and enjoy the show.
Sarah J. Schaffer '97 is the former Editorial Chair of The Crimson and a resident of Currier House.