June is a young girl struggling to pay the rent. Her evil landlord threatens her. It is a storyline that makes for great theater. A skilled writer and talented director could take that in many directions. Musical of Musicals (The Musical!), written by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell, takes it in several directions — ﬁve, actually.
All ﬁve have the same plot, each in the style of a different composer. In the ﬁrst act the piece pays homage to Rogers and Hammerstein, whose music was featured in Oklahoma, The King and I and South Paciﬁc. Next up is the style of Stephen Sondheim, composer of Company, A Little Night Music and Sunday in the Park With George. The work of Jerry Herman of Hello Dolly, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles has a place in the show as well. Andrew Lloyd Weber, composer of shows including Jesus Christ Super Star, Evita and Phantom of the Opera gets a nod as do Kander and Ebb who worked on Chicago and Cabaret.
Musical of Musicals, (The Musical!) opens at Gilbert Theater on May 31 and runs through June 17. The production not only ends the 2011/2012 season, it is also the 100th play to be performed at Gilbert Theater under outgoing Artistic Director and founder Lynn Pryer.
Directed by Dr. Gail Morfesis, the play ends Pryer’s tenure on a high note. “When I announced my retirement a year ago I knew I wanted to go out with some levity,” said Pryer. “Gail has directed for us before and she always does a bang up job.”
Morfesis chose this show to end the season with Pryer in mind.
“Often I am asked, ‘What musical-theater composition or opera is your favorite?’ My answer is always the same. I have many favorites but it is impossible to choose just one due to the many wonderful composers and their varying styles,” she said. “Eric Rockwell, composer and Joanne Bogart, lyricist, have attempted to answer this quandary for musical theater lovers in Musical Of Musicals, (The Musical!) Thus when approached by Lynn Pryer, Artistic Director of The Gilbert theater to suggest a musical to conclude his tenure at the Gilbert, his 100th show and the close of the 2011-2012 season, I instantly thought of this work — and of course the old television show, Name that Tune.”
While the production has ﬁ ve segments with four characters in each one, Morfesis chose to use 13 performers in the show. “We had people who came back from prior seasons who wanted to be involved and wanted to be in Lynn’s last show, and new people who were interested in joining the Gilbert Theater,” said Morfesis. “I think it is nice we picked a work that has a lot of variety.”
Pryer is delighted with the choice as well. “I knew I wanted to leave on a note that was literally and ﬁguratively fun and upbeat, so that was part of the plan when I set the season.”
After the ﬁnal performance on June 17, Pryer plans to say a few words and recognize the people who have supported him through the years. Of course, there will be carrot cake involved and probably some reminiscing, too. “We always serve snacks after every performance and carrot cake is sort of our signature dessert that we serve with refreshements,” said Pryer.
Thursday-Saturday performances start at 8 p.m. Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15-$19 per person. Reservations are highly recommended. Find out more at www.gilberttheater.com.