Saturday, November 7, 2009

review - Polyester The Musical

Polyester The Musical
book by Phil Olson; music: Wayland Pickard
lyrics by Olson & Pickard
Directed by Pickard & Doug Engalla
Actors Forum Theatre
through December 20

Breaking out of routine and treading new ground about sums up my 70s experience; pretty typical, huh? Novelty was a welcome choice back then.
What about the music? Disco, which imitated rock, but found its own unique place in the music world, at least momentarily. It was flashy, but oh so ephemeral. Looking back on it all, the 70s are a tad hard to pin down; they came and went so fast. Wayland Pickard, a relatively conservative pianist/musician and Phil Olson, a comedic writer of far less restraint combine divergent talents to create a cream puff to the 70s, a cute little musical show called Polyester (no relation to the John Waters film), which is loads of fun to watch with a very appealing cast.
Christopher Fairbanks, Pamela Donnelly, Gwendolyn Druyor and Jim Staahl are The Synchronistics, a 70s singing group reunited in 1999 at TV station WKLN for a fundraising telethon. Barry (Fairbanks) and Mindy (Donnelly), the 2 lead singers who were once a team on and off, have split up and much of the dialogue and musical content too chronicle the details of the breakup and serve as an appeal for reconciliation. Peggy (Druyor) factors into the split big time... and Carl (Staahl)? He's a mama's boy with a different set of issues. All four actors work splendidly together and help to fashion a smoothly flowing scenario. Robert Moon plays Lance, the station's telethon emcee, who, with a forced smile and sardonic delivery like Paul Lynde, tears up the scenery as often as he can. It's great fun, but stretched to the max. The whole show would fit much better into a one-act, 75-80 minute format instead of with its current 2 acts. Pickard teases with a few bars of a hit 70s song and cleverly changes the rest to create his new tune. For example, "Shake Your Booty" becomes "Bump Your Booty Rump". And with Olson's fearless approach to lyrics, it all pretty much hangs loose. But those were the 70s and it matches!
Engalla directs with good pacing and Michele Bernath provides some snappy choreography for the foursome.
The innocence of love, of course, wins out in the long run, and everyone leaves the theatre refreshed and optimistic. Good entertainment for our troubled times!
4 out of 5 stars


Blogger Mike said...

I saw this on their opening night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very funny script. I agree that it could have been tightened up a bit and a song or two in act 2 could have been cut as they did little to move the story forward. The five actors were excellent.

November 9, 2009 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger donmellie4 said...

My wife and I both loved this show.Blown away by the level of talent for the price we paid! All five cast members were teriffic. Tried to find the music on i-tunes but failed. Pity!!!
Don G

December 16, 2009 at 11:18 AM  

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