Witch and Famous
Hasty Pudding theatricals 137
Book and Lyrics by Paul Sagawa '85 and Peter Miller '85
Music by David Chase '86
Directed by Sara Louise Lazarus
Musical Direction by Roger Grodsky
Choreography by Karen Maria Pisani Pastore
At the Pudding through March 22
THE OPENING SCENE of opening night of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals 137 is pure spectacle. The colors are brilliant, the mood ebullient. Each costume is more eyecatching than the next and the players parade by like so many peacocks after a testosterone injection. Actors jostle each other for center stage in a bawdy, drunken tussle choreographed by an inebriated genius. Then the curtain goes up.
On any other night, a Pudding show has no trouble catching attention. But opening night is a production unto itself, and even when the drag queens hit the stage you can't help but wonder if the real action isn't happening somewhere in your peripheral vision. Surely there was drama enough in the pre-curtain champagne slosh on the building's top floor. Middle-aged men peered eagerly at younger females, while college men gazed longingly at older women. The lines were vintage prep--"It was only a man-made beach, but the temperature's been great all week, in the seventies and eighties." Less seasoned spectators drank too quickly. Only with the third summons did the crowd move reluctantly downstairs to the theater. Finally, after a somewhat dazed Man of the Year Bill Murray collected a brass pot and a few insults, the play within the play began.
SALEM, MASS. What better place for a few Shakespeare puns to get things rolling? Or at least so conclude Joe Mamma (Jonathan Shapiro) and Stan Byerman (Christopher Charron), the slapstick odd couple who guide the more than three-hour production--albeit with intoxicated intermission--to a safe landing Joe and Stan banter about the bard while awaiting death at the hands of the prim. Puritan populace. In the lively opener, the straightlaced settlers musically proclaim that they have "A Lot at Stake," and then get down to the serious business of witch hunting.
Town elders Mandy Torpedoes (Mark Graham) and Mayor John Overflow (Ty Christopher Warren) grudgingly release their two captives to assist the oh so devout Amos Behavin (William Nicholas Weit) on a search-and-destroy mission to an alleged witch haunt. The Mortal Inn. (The directions to the inn sound curiously like the route to Jordan's Furniture Waitham.) A few contraception jokes and the ubiquitous stick-it-to-the nearby women's college slam--"A.B. from Harvard, VD from Wellesley" later, the trio arrive at the inn, supposedly the nest of a bevy of premisenous. In fact, this den of iniquity resembles nothing so much as The Love Boat on acid.
Your hostess on tonight's cruise Anita Mann (Robert Sagar Coburn). Entertainment on the Lido Deck, from the bountiful Miles Long (Leonard Dick), who offers up vintage shlock along the lines of "It's love, bigger than a breadbox. It's love, trendier than dredlocks." Cabin assistants include Eileen Dover (Zak Klobucher), Sharon Sharalike (Mark Meredith). Auntie Histamine (Michael Golder) and Alice Fairinlove (Steve Lyne).
The sugary Amos flips his tricorner for Alice, but Mandy and the sadistic Mayor are out for witchflesh. Mandy, together with goodtime-guys Pastor Pryme (Tucker McCrady) and Judge Mental (Ron Duvernay), wants the witches for a traditional roast, but the Mayor has them in mind as potential subjects for "medical experiments." (This persistent line, even more egregious when pronounced in a German accent, is the one real misstep in a script which otherwise admirably achieves humor while sidestepping the truly tasteless.) Rounding out the posse is the simpering Mona Lott (Brad Daley), who has been carefully coached to shudder incontrollably when confronted with supposed witche.
These colonial-age McCarthss find an all in the supernaturally spotty angel Alexis Position (Guy LaCrospy) When not rejecting the advances of Lon Sutter (Peter Sagal), a frustrated devil with a macho complex. Alexis is busy trying to tid Salem of its witches. Although the inn matrons are all-too mortal. Alexis goes in for the kill once she sees Lou cavorting with the leggy Anna, a woman literally dripping with scarier letters.