For decades, it has seemed that, when it comes to making fun of musicals, the long-running (and ever-updated) revue Forbidden Broadway has had the field to itself. Finally, some competition is provided by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart's The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! Composer Rockwell and lyricist Bogart hit upon the idea of an evening of five mini-musicals, each done in the style of a familiar songwriter. The plot is expressed in the opening lines: "I can't pay the rent!" (Ingenue); "You must pay the rent! (Villain); "I can't pay the rent!" (Ingenue); "You must pay the rent!" (Villain); "I'll pay the rent!" (Hero). In addition to these three characters, there is also an older woman. In "Corn!," the story is given a Western twist à la Oklahoma!, as the singers spoof Rodgers & Hammerstein in familiar music and punning lyrics ("Shucks, what beautiful corn!"). "A Little Complex" moves the action to a New York apartment building and to the dissonant chords and tongue-twisting wordplay of Stephen Sondheim ("When you have to strain to explain the arcane, it's bound to sound profound"). "Dear Abby!" turns the focus on the older woman, now a combination of Dolly and Mame in the style of Jerry Herman. "Aspects of Junita" enters the operetta world of Andrew Lloyd Webber, with particular attention to the composer's tendency to "borrow" melodies from opera. ("I've heard that song before," sings Junita, the ingenue. "You'll hear it even more," replies the Villain, now a Phantom.) Finally, "Speakeasy" mixes Cabaret and Chicago, among other shows by Kander and Ebb. As with most parodies, the more audience members know, the more jokes they'll recognize and, presumably, laugh at. Rockwell and Bogart are joined by Craig Fols and Lovette George in the four-person cast that, as with Forbidden Broadway, has to display considerable versatility and does so admirably. Unlike Forbidden Broadway, however, this is a satire that can run without being revised for a long time.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|The Musical of Musicals, musical play|