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edjames
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Despite the bitter cold weather here in NYC, the "spring season is heating up.

 

I often wonder why playwrights and producers chose a name for a production that can be totally misused and abusedd by critics and bloggers, and so Disaster is not a truly apt name for this musical spoof on those famous disaster movies of the 70's. The Poseidon Adventure movie is the inspiration for this particular farce.

 

And quite a farce it is. The music is all '70's classic hits ranging from Donna Summer's Hot Stuff to Morris Albert's "Feelings." Fortunately most are sung shortly with only a few lyrics.

 

Written by, and starring, Broadway/cabaret funny man, Seth Rudesky, this is the disastrous (see, theres that word again) tale of a floating casino moored at a NY pier that is shoddily constructed by the evil impresario, played aptly by Roger Bart (Tony). Professor Schneider (Seth Rudestly) forewarns everyone that disaster (again!) is coming soon because the earth is shifting beneath the boat. A host of guests get caught up in the mayhem and chaos as the boat flips over in the water and they seek to escape the on-coming water as the boat sinks.

 

OK, this wasn't great theater but there are some laugh out loud moments and the cast is very good. I can't help but think Roger Bart should have been given more to do as he is just so good at what he does. Faith Prince makes her appearance in a role reminiscent of Shelly Winters. BUT, almost stealing the show is actress Jennifer Simard as Sister Mary, the nun with a secret gambling addiction. She is so funny and the audience loved her. Also of note is young actor Baylee Littrell in the dual role of twins Ben and Lisa. The kid was wonderful!

 

The audience was obviously "Papered" (free tickets for friends and family) at the performance I attended, and they responded very positive to the cast.

 

I don't know how the critics will treat this production and we'll see when it officially opens on March 8th.

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It's ironic, somehow, for Jennifer Simard to be back in the habit - when she and I met about 20 years ago, it was in a regional production of Nunsense where she was playing Sister Mary Amnesia. She was hysterically funny back then, and I'm glad she's been doing so well in NYC.

 

Although I greatly respect his talent, I have to confess I'm just not a fan of Rudetsky's style. And with his own generous support and love for Broadway music, I'm rather saddened that this show has no original score. A pastiche 70's score might have been a fun idea, and a wonderful opportunity for, perhaps, an aspiring Broadway composer. The use of just bits of iconic songs, to me, conjres up the image of a very cheap camp act - and I just don't find that kind of performance appealing at all. There has also been a lot of discussion on the theatre chat boards as to whether a Broadway-sized venue is at all right for this very small, slight piece. I tend to think this show would have been better staying off-Broadway where it has been produced before. But, we'll see...

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How this reminds me of a show I worked on at La Mamma circa. 1987. It was called "Don't Remind Me" --a musical comedy version of the Titanic sinking (the title being a reference to the movie, "A Night to Remember.") The show never quite worked. It had some really funny bits and a wonderful original score by the very talented actor/composer Tom Judson, who later became, get this, award winning Falcon porn star Gus Mattox--my only friend ever to become a major porn star. The book was written by Tom's sometime boyfriend and off-Broadway actor George Osterman. I thought the show was terribly clever, however, the music and the book were not exactly in the same style and the director failed to merge them successfully. As with the aforementioned show "Disaster," the title itself was a generous gift to any critic penning a negative review.

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Yep. When Amazing Grace closed at the end of October, Motown: The Musical was already scheduled to come back to the Nederlander in July. So my understanding is they were looking for shows ready & willing to hop in to the theatre for a firmly limited run and Disaster! took the leap.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This good review from the NYTimes might help box office...

 

Review: Mayhem! Gambling! Disco! In ‘Disaster!’ It’s All There for the Spoofing

Disaster!

 

By CHARLES ISHERWOOD MARCH 8, 2016

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/03/09/arts/09DISASTER/09DISASTER-blog427.jpg

A scene from the musical spoof “Disaster!” at the Nederlander Theater. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

  • Alert the authorities! There’s a wayward nun on the loose in New York City, committing grand larceny eight times a week.
     
    I joke, of course — though that story would be a fun diversion from the onslaught of election coverage, no? The crimes are fictional, and are taking place at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway, where Jennifer Simard, playing a singing sister with an unquenchable yen for slot machines, is pilfering every scene she adorns in the delirious goof of a musical, “Disaster!”
     
    Perhaps petty larceny is a more appropriate charge, since this self-consciously silly spoof of the cheesy 1970s films that subjected assorted B-list stars to assorted calamities will never rank among the great musicals of our era — or even the great jukebox musicals of our era, a rather small demographic. But for anyone with a moist, albeit mortifying, affection for the oeuvre of that great auteur Irwin Allen (guilty), and the K-Tel era of pop music (guilty), “Disaster!” will provide a rush of giddy nostalgia that’s just as pleasurable, at times, as the more substantial rewards of the musical theater’s higher-reaching shows.
     
    True, if you have to Google either Allen, the producer of “The Poseidon Adventure,” which provides the basic template for the musical, or K-Tel, which churned out albums of soppy pop hits in collections relentlessly flogged in television ads, you might want to give this baby a skip. Try “Hamilton” — and good luck with that!
     
    Even so, “Disaster!,” written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, and directed by Mr. Plotnick, has such a sensational cast that musical lovers incognizant of the guilty pleasures of the movies being lampooned, and ignorant of the show’s soundtrack — a staggering stack of 45s you loved to hate, or hated to love, or a little of both (“Torn Between Two Lovers,” “Feelings,” “I Am Woman”) — may still have plenty to savor.
     
    My spouse, whose ignorance of both the movies and the music in question is absolute (he was born in Turkey, after the brief vogue of disaster movies had waned), had a fine time, enjoying the daffiness of the performances and the willfully crackpot plotting.
     
    In addition to the heaven-sent Ms. Simard, the musical, which has had two prior Off Broadway runs, features tasty turns from familiar names: Faith Prince, sending up the warmhearted Jewish matron memorably portrayed by Shelley Winters in “The Poseidon Adventure”; Roger Bart, playing the sleazy owner of the floating disco-cum-casino in which the musical takes place; Rachel York, spangled in faux Bob Mackie and flinging around a fabulous Farrah wig, as the club’s headliner; and Kerry Butler as an intrepid reporter seeking to uncover the shoddy workmanship that causes havoc when an earthquake strikes the Hudson River, where the party boat floats.
     
    http://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/03/09/arts/09DISASTERJP/09DISASTERJP-articleLarge.jpg
    Roger Bart plays the unfortunate owner of a floating disco-casino in “Disaster!”Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
     
    Let’s briefly run through the ditsy plot. Mr. Rudetsky, perhaps the biggest and most famous Broadway fanboy in town, himself plays professor Ted Scheider, soi-disant “noted disaster expert.” He has reason to believe a geological event of mighty proportions may be about to occur, because he’s been extracting some unusually heated sediment from, er, somewhere. (The opening number, introducing most of the characters, is performed to the throbbing “Hot Stuff,” originally made famous by Donna Summer.)
     
    Ted is most worried about this casino-disco, which is celebrating its grand opening and is stuffed to capacity, a further danger detected by Marianne (Ms. Butler), that nosy reporter who buttonholes the proprietor, Tony (Mr. Bart). His flirtatious evasions don’t give her much help, requiring her to take him up on his invitation to join the party.
     
    Once aboard, she’s surprised to meet an ex-fiancé whom she dumped, Chad, a cater-waiter played by Adam Pascal, whose leather lungs are ripe for his big power ballad, the ghastly “Without You.” Let’s all sing along: “I can’t live/If living is without you/I can’t live/I can’t give anymore.” (Try getting that out of your head now. Apologies.)
     
    Also on board: Ms. Prince’s Shirley, resplendent in lurid Pucci swirls (the delicious costumes are by William Ivey Long), and her husband, Maury (Kevin Chamberlin, mostly wasted, alas); the washed-up disco queen Levora, played with seen-it-all weariness by Lacretta Nicole; and Ms. York’s Jackie, who hopes to entice Tony into becoming stepfather to her twin tykes — a boy and girl played with ingenuity by Baylee Littrell, swapping genders within seconds.
     
    Mr. Rudetsky and Mr. Plotnick (along with Drew Geraci, who co-conceived the show and wrote “additional material”) take their time getting to the titular calamity, or rather series of calamities: after the earthquake comes a tidal wave that capsizes the casino. The first act tends toward waywardness, and while it runs just an hour, it feels longer. When you’re camping it up, it’s best not to spend too much time vamping. (The quick-change bit with the twins, for instance, becomes a running gag that’s running a marathon.)
     
    But the performances provide sufficient distraction. I will not soon forget the loopy sight of Ms. Prince’s Shirley tap-dancing her heart out (almost literally) to transmit messages in Morse code to passengers trapped a floor below her. The antic Mr. Bart practically springs an oil leak as the corrupt Tony, and Ms. York’s lush junior-varsity version of Cher is amusingly vapid, all bugle beads for brains.
     
    But the breakout star is unquestionably Ms. Simard, playing Sister Mary Downy, a guitar-strumming nun who comes to the boat to convert the partygoers from lives of dissipation (“Gambling is a sin, you’re going to hell, have a nice day,” she tells one), but ends up performing an orgasmic pas de deux with a “Hawaii Five-O”-themed slot machine, to the tune of the disco classic “Never Can Say Goodbye.” (Connoisseurs will recognize Sister Mary as a nod to Helen Reddy’s singing nun in
    )
     
    Ms. Simard mines the sister’s pious nerdiness for delicious comedy, but really comes into her own when Sister Mary succumbs to her gambling addiction and makes mad love to that machine. No more proof needed that sinning is far more entertaining, and much funnier, than saintliness.
     
     

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  • 4 weeks later...
This good review from the NYTimes might help box office...

 

Review: Mayhem! Gambling! Disco! In ‘Disaster!’ It’s All There for the Spoofing

Disaster!

 

By CHARLES ISHERWOOD MARCH 8, 2016

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/03/09/arts/09DISASTER/09DISASTER-blog427.jpg

A scene from the musical spoof “Disaster!” at the Nederlander Theater. Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

  • Alert the authorities! There’s a wayward nun on the loose in New York City, committing grand larceny eight times a week.
     
    I joke, of course — though that story would be a fun diversion from the onslaught of election coverage, no? The crimes are fictional, and are taking place at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway, where Jennifer Simard, playing a singing sister with an unquenchable yen for slot machines, is pilfering every scene she adorns in the delirious goof of a musical, “Disaster!”
     
    Perhaps petty larceny is a more appropriate charge, since this self-consciously silly spoof of the cheesy 1970s films that subjected assorted B-list stars to assorted calamities will never rank among the great musicals of our era — or even the great jukebox musicals of our era, a rather small demographic. But for anyone with a moist, albeit mortifying, affection for the oeuvre of that great auteur Irwin Allen (guilty), and the K-Tel era of pop music (guilty), “Disaster!” will provide a rush of giddy nostalgia that’s just as pleasurable, at times, as the more substantial rewards of the musical theater’s higher-reaching shows.
     
    True, if you have to Google either Allen, the producer of “The Poseidon Adventure,” which provides the basic template for the musical, or K-Tel, which churned out albums of soppy pop hits in collections relentlessly flogged in television ads, you might want to give this baby a skip. Try “Hamilton” — and good luck with that!
     
    Even so, “Disaster!,” written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, and directed by Mr. Plotnick, has such a sensational cast that musical lovers incognizant of the guilty pleasures of the movies being lampooned, and ignorant of the show’s soundtrack — a staggering stack of 45s you loved to hate, or hated to love, or a little of both (“Torn Between Two Lovers,” “Feelings,” “I Am Woman”) — may still have plenty to savor.
     
    My spouse, whose ignorance of both the movies and the music in question is absolute (he was born in Turkey, after the brief vogue of disaster movies had waned), had a fine time, enjoying the daffiness of the performances and the willfully crackpot plotting.
     
    In addition to the heaven-sent Ms. Simard, the musical, which has had two prior Off Broadway runs, features tasty turns from familiar names: Faith Prince, sending up the warmhearted Jewish matron memorably portrayed by Shelley Winters in “The Poseidon Adventure”; Roger Bart, playing the sleazy owner of the floating disco-cum-casino in which the musical takes place; Rachel York, spangled in faux Bob Mackie and flinging around a fabulous Farrah wig, as the club’s headliner; and Kerry Butler as an intrepid reporter seeking to uncover the shoddy workmanship that causes havoc when an earthquake strikes the Hudson River, where the party boat floats.
     
    http://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/03/09/arts/09DISASTERJP/09DISASTERJP-articleLarge.jpg
    Roger Bart plays the unfortunate owner of a floating disco-casino in “Disaster!”Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
     
    Let’s briefly run through the ditsy plot. Mr. Rudetsky, perhaps the biggest and most famous Broadway fanboy in town, himself plays professor Ted Scheider, soi-disant “noted disaster expert.” He has reason to believe a geological event of mighty proportions may be about to occur, because he’s been extracting some unusually heated sediment from, er, somewhere. (The opening number, introducing most of the characters, is performed to the throbbing “Hot Stuff,” originally made famous by Donna Summer.)
     
    Ted is most worried about this casino-disco, which is celebrating its grand opening and is stuffed to capacity, a further danger detected by Marianne (Ms. Butler), that nosy reporter who buttonholes the proprietor, Tony (Mr. Bart). His flirtatious evasions don’t give her much help, requiring her to take him up on his invitation to join the party.
     
    Once aboard, she’s surprised to meet an ex-fiancé whom she dumped, Chad, a cater-waiter played by Adam Pascal, whose leather lungs are ripe for his big power ballad, the ghastly “Without You.” Let’s all sing along: “I can’t live/If living is without you/I can’t live/I can’t give anymore.” (Try getting that out of your head now. Apologies.)
     
    Also on board: Ms. Prince’s Shirley, resplendent in lurid Pucci swirls (the delicious costumes are by William Ivey Long), and her husband, Maury (Kevin Chamberlin, mostly wasted, alas); the washed-up disco queen Levora, played with seen-it-all weariness by Lacretta Nicole; and Ms. York’s Jackie, who hopes to entice Tony into becoming stepfather to her twin tykes — a boy and girl played with ingenuity by Baylee Littrell, swapping genders within seconds.
     
    Mr. Rudetsky and Mr. Plotnick (along with Drew Geraci, who co-conceived the show and wrote “additional material”) take their time getting to the titular calamity, or rather series of calamities: after the earthquake comes a tidal wave that capsizes the casino. The first act tends toward waywardness, and while it runs just an hour, it feels longer. When you’re camping it up, it’s best not to spend too much time vamping. (The quick-change bit with the twins, for instance, becomes a running gag that’s running a marathon.)
     
    But the performances provide sufficient distraction. I will not soon forget the loopy sight of Ms. Prince’s Shirley tap-dancing her heart out (almost literally) to transmit messages in Morse code to passengers trapped a floor below her. The antic Mr. Bart practically springs an oil leak as the corrupt Tony, and Ms. York’s lush junior-varsity version of Cher is amusingly vapid, all bugle beads for brains.
     
    But the breakout star is unquestionably Ms. Simard, playing Sister Mary Downy, a guitar-strumming nun who comes to the boat to convert the partygoers from lives of dissipation (“Gambling is a sin, you’re going to hell, have a nice day,” she tells one), but ends up performing an orgasmic pas de deux with a “Hawaii Five-O”-themed slot machine, to the tune of the disco classic “Never Can Say Goodbye.” (Connoisseurs will recognize Sister Mary as a nod to Helen Reddy’s singing nun in
    )
     
    Ms. Simard mines the sister’s pious nerdiness for delicious comedy, but really comes into her own when Sister Mary succumbs to her gambling addiction and makes mad love to that machine. No more proof needed that sinning is far more entertaining, and much funnier, than saintliness.
     

How this reminds me of a show I worked on at La Mamma circa. 1987. It was called "Don't Remind Me" --a musical comedy version of the Titanic sinking (the title being a reference to the movie, "A Night to Remember.") The show never quite worked. It had some really funny bits and a wonderful original score by the very talented actor/composer Tom Judson, who later became, get this, award winning Falcon porn star Gus Mattox--my only friend ever to become a major porn star. The book was written by Tom's sometime boyfriend and off-Broadway actor George Osterman. I thought the show was terribly clever, however, the music and the book were not exactly in the same style and the director failed to merge them successfully. As with the aforementioned show "Disaster," the title itself was a generous gift to any critic penning a negative review.

How many times does Rudetsky say "I'm obssessed" in the course of the show?

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