I am not a musical, I am a human being
The tragically stricken John Merrick, whose unfortunate illness and desperate quest for acceptance captured the sympathy of the world, gets no respect in the gleefully silly musical "The Elephant Man: The Musical."
By ROBIN EISGRAU
No we're not kidding: the story of famed and deformed Englishman John
Merrick has been set to music.
Instead of being, say, a somber meditation on
Merrick's quest for acceptance in the face of his disfigurement, "The
Elelphant Man: The Musical" opts for humor and puts an unabashedly goofy
spin on Merrick's tale, portraying him as a misunderstood chap who longs
to be a star on the Broadway stage.
There's a cartoony flavor running
through the show as Merrick's disfigurement is represented by what looks
like a mutated day-glo pink plastic helmet that sports a slinky and plunger
among its overgrown brain shape. Everything gets played for laughs: the
proprietor of the freak show Merrick is trapped in is a sex maniac and Dr.
James Lipscomb, the doctor who "rescues" him from said show writes
medical-themed romance novels on the side as his prudish assistant goes on a funny
quest to find herself.|
This is a madcap musical within a musical as
Merrick's wish to star on Broadway (after studying books by Charles Nelson
Reilly and William Shatner) comes true courtesy of Lipscomb. The songs in
this show seem to celebrate and make fun of the Broadway genre at the same
time, and it works because the actors seem to be having so much fun on stage.
"The Elephant Man: The Musical" is ribald (there are a lot of sex references),
gleefully silly, and would be enjoyed by anyone who thinks musical theater
takes itself too seriously.
|AUGUST 19, 2001|
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