Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bernice Bobs Her Mullet

This musicalization (at NYMF) of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story resets the tale in current times and stamps out all nuance: Bernice isn't just small-town anymore, now she's a barefoot mullet-headed hillbilly, and her big city debutante cousin now comes off like a Legally Blonde-aged Glinda. The story (especially a fire and brimstone preacher who thinks that short hair on a female tempts eternal damnation) doesn't make much sense or have much distinction when set in the current-day, and nearly everything thrown in to otherwise modernize it feels been-there-done-that. However, the show isn't boring (thanks to the terrific, lively ensemble) and there is a stretch in the middle (thanks to a couple of songs that are a cut above the others in the score) when it's amiable and fun. (A hand-clappin' gospel number, led by Jeff Hiller, is the show's highlight) It's been cast flawlessly: everyone is perfectly matched to their roles, and if the romantic leads are less memorable than everyone else, I blame it on their material.

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