For the Varla Jean fans, Merman is in full tuck. The script utilizes her schtick to comedic effect but doesn't come close to matching the on-your-guard laughs from her solo shows. The score gives her ample opportunity to sing but doesn't fully showcase her vocal talents.
For the Leslie Jordan fans, and I count myself among those who walked in believing he could make anything funny, the writing proves me wrong. The story is so thin it loses sight of itself. The songs are neither memorable nor remarkable and are so formulaic they stole from themselves; but they are fun and occasionally funny. Willard Becham--the book, music, and lyric writer--might have done himself and the production a favor to let someone else direct.
The real reasons to see this show are the delightful performances of the most stunning quartet of male, triple threats since Jersey Boys. Callan Bergmann, Xavier Cano, Wes Hart, and Joshua Woodie sing harmonies so tight they are almost waterproof. Their dancing, taken as a group and choreographed to showcase individual abilities, fully entertains. They don't have enough collective body fat to fry a chicken. I realize that isn't a talent; but they didn't really do any acting and, when they took their shirts off (repeatedly), it was a threat to my self-esteem.
Kyle Dean Massey, so haunting and powerful in Next to Normal, was charming and vocally stunning. He was so good, he made the hokey Okie character seem genuine and sanguine instead of genuinely stupid. Massey was billed as the Lucky Guy, but I enjoyed his performance and those of the four Buckaroos so much that I considered demanding shared billing