Updated: Mar 8, 2019
★★★★★ - Irresistible
If you enjoy an occasional unapologetic, boisterous paean to shamelessly crass humor, well please plunk your silly ass down right next to mine.
Majestic Repertory Theatre is currently pummeling giddy audiences with an explosively energetic mounting of “Bigfoot” (yes, THAT Bigfoot), a “Brand New Musical Comedy” by Amber Ruffin and Keving Sciretta, with music by David Schmoll. The thought of a tuner being crafted around such an absurd premise has already lowered our expectations to anticipate a pretty dizzy riff on the legendary menacing monster.
Nothing could have prepared me for just how brazenly goofy director Troy Heard and his prodigiously gifted cast and crew could be in an effort to breathe comedic life into every single line, no matter how groaningly lame; and each musical phrase, no matter how pleasantly forgettable. The success of the writing is really that it allows the performers to use it loosely as a springboard for manic creativity, a stepping stone for unbridled clowning. The cast could hardly have been bettered, each performer creating an engaging stereotypical personage even while they functioned as a finely tuned ensemble.
In the title role, Venus Cobb managed the feat of being a winsome dullard without ever becoming cloying, a delectable Baby Huey in a fuzzy bear suit. As Bigfoot's long-suffering mother Francine, Anita Bean somehow succeeded in making physical degeneration a recurring punch line, as she alternated between scrapping with Bigfoot’s detractors, and being consumed by violent coughing fits that were in search of a hairball.
Mike Vargovich was pitch perfect as the sympathetic town Doctor, who riotously descends from being a rational protector to a foul-mouthed, unappreciated patsy. Bobby Lang is giving a tour-de-force performance as the physically animated, vocally overbearing, villainously alcoholic Mayor. Through every line and every song (hell, every MOMENT), Mr. Lang is giving one of the most energetic, totally committed performances you will see this (or any other) year.
Jenelle Magbutay strikes just the right balance as Bigfoot’s love interest (or it “like interest”?) Joanne. Her daffy, earnest paranoia and conspiracy theories melt nicely into her growing affection for the monster boy. She makes the most of her opening number, and fleshes out what is arguably the least well-written role. Everyone in the ensemble has a chance to shine, some in multiple roles, and shine they do, each singing with full-throated abandon (Dian Emerson is the effective Choral Director), and cleanly executing Jenna Szoke’s prolific and clever choreography. For the record they are: Matthew Antonizick, Jillian Austin, Aaron Barry, Holly Heneks, Bree Forsberg, and Karsten Pudwill.
The Design Ninjas have contributed an appropriately rustic cartoon of a set, which does all that is necessary, and character specific costumes that are witty and colorful. Aria Morris has worked wonders with an evocative lighting design that is remarkably varied within limited means. David Schmoll’s sound design had good presence and excellent balance, contributing much to the success of the musical numbers. Rowan Morris was responsible for the effective hair and make-up.
Of course, the production had director Heard’s fingerprints (Bigfoot prints?) all over it. Few have Mr. Heard’s uncanny knack to inspire actors and designers to take such audacious risks, and to unite a team into such a laser-focused group endeavor. While the proudly flimsy material has some inherent vacuums, Team “Bigfoot” saw them instead as golden opportunities, and found inventive methods to make the eighty-minute romp endlessly entertaining. The sold out house roared and clapped their approval, making “Bigfoot” not so much a performance as an “event.”