Wow. A musical based on L. Ron Hubbard and the teachings of Scientology, performed by children age 8-13, really has no business being this good. It started at a small theater in New York City in November of 2003, then moved off-Broadway, eventually winning a Village Voice Obie award. This was followed by a three-month sold-out run in Los Angeles at the end of 2004. Composer and lyricist Kyle Jarrow has somehow managed to tell the story of Hubbard and the basic tenets of Scientology in song, in an informative way, while making fun of it at the same time. The hilarious and catchy "L. Ron Hubbard"'s chorus revolves around the question "What does the "L." stand for?," answered by a series of replies, only some of which begin with "L." "The Way It Began" is even funnier, prefaced by the statement "The following is completely secret and absolutely serious. It is the story of the universe as described in the most sacred literature of the Church of Scientology." If you didn't already know the story of the universe according to Scientology, you're probably in for a good laugh. "Science of the Mind" and "Mister Auditor" further explain some of the principles of Scientology, the mysterious "E-Meter" and methodology of the auditor (the kids sing some of the questions the auditor asks). "Something Special" begins with: "It has been alleged that the Church of Scientology preys on the weak and confused...," going on to mention that "some have claimed the "L" in the name L. Ron Hubbard stands for liar." The narrator says none of this is true (and finally tells what the "L" really stands for), but the fact that these allegations are mentioned at all probably won't be winning this album/production many fans in the Scientology camp. Religious politics aside, the songs are all quite catchy, with quirky little hooks and great backing vocals, and the kids themselves all turn in fantastic performances. Funny, weird and wonderful, A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant is certainly the offbeat theater offering of the year.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard