Theatrical satires of theatrical performances have many things in common: enthusiastic but oblivious participants, extreme versions of theatrical clichés, and happy endings where the final product is kind of terrible yet kind of wonderful. The Road to Qatar (book and lyrics by Stephen Cole; music by David Krane) is the latest in this long and honored tradition, and it faces a difficult challenge: there have been so many satires of theatre clichés that the take-offs themselves are now clichés. While The Road to Qatar, a mix of [title of show] and the Bing Crosby-Bob Hope road movies, is amiable and pleasant, it is little more than a greatest hits collection of Jewish jokes, gay jokes, annoying mother jokes, foreigner jokes, and other extremely-well-worn categories of humor. The music is listener-friendly but undistinguished; the lyrics are occasionally clever but not often enough.
If The Road to Qatar focused on its unique (and true!) story of two strangers thrown together to write a musical in Dubai and less on the usual theatrical jokes, it might be stronger. Cole and Krane decided to go the broad-humor route, but more reality might have served them well--in particular more focus on how the men coped, became friends, dealt with the travel, and how they perhaps grew from the experience.
James Beaman and Keith Gerchak play the leads; the jokes about their being mirror images would work better if they actually looked alike (as the authors definitely do). Sarah Stiles and Bruce Warren bring much life to the show with their wide range of talents and deep senses of humor. Michael Bottari and Ronald Case's puppets are delightful, and Bob Richard's choreography is fun.
(Reviewer's comp; 4th row)