Review: Clever 'The Revue' Skewers the Musicals Industry

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday March 22, 2022

A scene from "The Revue"
A scene from "The Revue"  

In the vein of shows like "Forbidden Broadway," along comes the delightfully amusing "The Revue" to set about skewering the musical industry that so many of us adore.

With book, lyrics, and music by Jim Dooley, this new show looks at the common habit of Broadway productions being based on popular movies, whether they should have been or not. From "Spiderman: Turn off the Dark" to "Ghost" to "King Kong," musicals based on films have been the go-to for Broadway for decades now. While many of us bemoan this fact, there's nothing worse than seeing another famous film being mounted on the Great White Way while original musicals never see the light of day.

In "The Revue," a Broadway director (Matt Walker) and producer (Rick Batalla) are desperate to find a cash-grab musical that will help save their theater. One by one they go through stacks of potential musical scripts that are all either based on movies, or sequels to movies that didn't have one.†

Using a talented cast of four (Tiffany Daniels, Katie DeShan, Travis Leland, Isaac Robinson-Smith), the Director "sets the scene" and a musical number is sampled. There's the lament by a T-Rex in "Jurassic Park: The Musical," "Star Wars: A New Hope" with songs by the Bee Gees, and a "Wizard of Oz" remake "by" Lin Manuel-Miranda. From "The Godfather" to "Castaway," the game cast offers up clever songs that allow the director and producer to decide if they want to consider mounting the thing or throwing it into the trash.†

The concept — while not new — is still funny, and allows the cast to change up the play night after night. The songs by Dooley are crafty and catchy, especially the "Titanic 2" duet that has the ghost of Jack haunting his two-day lover Rose about the fact she didn't scoot over on the floating door so he could be saved from the frigid sea.

There's also a "Sound of Music 2" number that mimics the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein perfectly and turns what would normally be a family-friendly show into something a little bit naughtier.

The book (also by Dooley) is a bit repetitive in between musical sequences, and some of the jokes could have used updating. There's also a bizarre allusion to the producer's penchant for photos of underage kids he keeps on his computer that's played for laughs. More than once. This doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the show in any way, just something that sticks out from time to time.

But the game cast keeps the night moving swiftly, and every performer has their moments. All four of the main cast navigate a variety of different styles and characters, sometimes in a matter of minutes.†

Whether it be Robinson-Smith taking over the lead of Dorothy in the new "Oz," Leland doing his best Alan Rickman imitation in "Die Hard: The Musical," Daniels' defiant turn as the put-upon spouse in "The Godfather: The Musical," or DeShan breaking our hearts as a chained-up T-Rex, they all have their moments to shine.

The show is set on a small stage, but director Matt Walker manages to keep things fresh and entertaining as the relatively short show dances to its hilarious climax. It's definitely a fun night out, and a must for lovers of Broadway and film.

"The Revue" has its final weekend of performances†March 24-27th†at the Colony Theatre, Burbank, CA. For more information and tickets, visit www.therevuemusical.com†or†colonytheatre.org

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.