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Food Fight
a Musical Parody
CATEGORY :


COMPANY : Jerusalem Group Theatre
VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 3311

SHOWING : February 04, 2009 - March 29, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Food Fight: A Musical Comedy For Waist Watchers!: This is a brand new musical revue that is sweeping the nation. In gyms, in restaurants, in doctors` offices, and at home... men and women can’t stop talking about this feel good show that thrills and inspires them. Food Fight! is a hilarious and poignant look at the one topic that is constantly on everyone’s minds & tongues: FOOD! Throw in the pleasures and neuroses that come with this universal obsession and you can see why Food Fight! is a surefire recipe for success. Critics are raving and the audiences keep coming back for seconds, treating friends and family to this musical diet.


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind
by Dedalus
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
2.0
I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a play with such low expectations as when I volunteered to usher for “Food Fight.” After all, it is reportedly in the tradition of “Menopause – the Musical,” which I absolutely loathed. Still and all, I (usually) enjoy musical parody, and dieting and fitness are more fertile ground for comedy than menopause (which has only mood swings and hot flashes as comic foundations).

The almost good news is that a few of “Food Fight’s” song parodies are actually funny and clever. The bad news is that most of them are not. The worse news is that most of the myriad opportunities for comedy in this subject matter are left untouched and unmined. And the worst news is that the play is amateurishly produced and looks and sounds dark and ugly.

This time, I don’t think my opinion was so outside the general reaction. At the performance I saw, a few of the mostly female audience (I only saw two other men, and one was the staff photographer) clapped and stomped, but most of them sat in stony silence throughout. And absolutely no one joined the cast for the Celebrate-Girl-Power-By-Joining-Us-On-Stage finale – a device that really grated in “Menopause” and falls flatter than an Ab-Mat here.

At least this time, the characters are given names (first names all beginning with “C” and last names all suggesting food – isn’t that precious!), if not dimension. As in “Menopause,” they can all be described in a few words – Cheryl (Annie Cook) is the middle-aged one with the too-randy husband; Carla (Tafee Patterson) is the slim and fit aerobics instructor, terrified of shooting up to her college weight; Connie (Missy McArdle) is the plus-size one with the fear of needles; Cindy (Amanda Shae Wilborn) is the unemployed one with the strayed-too-far ex-husband. That’s about it. There’s no story, no character development, no conflict. Just four women hanging around a gym, kvetching and venting and singing old favorites with new lyrics.

Like I said above some of the numbers are actually not bad. I especially liked Cheryl’s “Viagra” (to the tune of “Maria”), Cheryl’s “If I Were a Size Two” (to “If I Were a Rich Man”) even with its too-many verses, and Cindy’s “Lazy” (“Crazy”). The standout group numbers were the opening “I Hope I Lose It” (Chorus Line’s “I Hope I Get it”) energetically staged with aerobics and “Eat-Just-What-You-Want-Because-It-Doesn’t-Matter Diet” (“Super-cali-fragilistic-expialidocius”). But, these were totally overwhelmed by some truly awful numbers – “Botox Queen” (“Dancing Queen”), “Look at Me I’m Rachel Ray” (Grease’s “Sandra Dee”), “Miss Cook’s Women’s gym” (“YMCA”), and, most egregiously, “Fetish” (“Cherish”) in which Carla suggests they use food as cosmetics. It really made me cringe.

From what I could tell, all four women had nice voices, but were sometimes given songs outside their range. Ms. McArdle shows the most range and power, and has a nice moment late in the show with “I’m Fat & I’m OK” (“Don’t Rain on My Parade”), though it certainly was an unusual choice for such a character so obsessed with her body image, and had lyrics too lame for any gym. Unfortunately, the sound mixer had a bad night, and all the mikes were set at pure-distortion – even the good moments were hard to understand or even listen to. Ms. Patterson especially had a voice the sound system hated, and I could not understand a single lyric of her big “I’m a Cougar” number (leaving aside the fact that she seemed far too young to be considered a “cougar” by anyone older than a teenager).

The set and lights were also sub-par. It looked like no gym I’ve ever seen, and seemed as if it were thrown together with cardboard flats and masking tape. The lights were all over the place – dim on the singers and bright on the walls, and the few attempts at “Disco” bumps were off beat, colorless, and lazy. The set was painted in clashing shades of pink and red, and the whole stage picture was shadowy, dark, and ugly.

And there are so many opportunities for diet/exercise satire and parody – serial diet plans, spouses who pressure too much or too little, workplace snack temptations, exercise plans that hurt and don’t help, yo-yo waistlines, and so much more. Here, it was all body image and skinny-envy and gyms – little more. Here there was a lot of “scope creep” into too-randy, not-randy-enough spouses, young homewreckers, serial dating, fetishes, and copying “Menopause’s” incomprehensible success formula. Here was 90 minutes of venting that seemed like three hours.

So, this is not so much “in the tradition” of “Menopause” as it is a carbon copy. Four women, no dramatic structure, lame parodies, and a late-in-game appeal to “Woman Power” that seemed duct-taped to the plot – it’s as if the writer had a checklist, a pile of old ‘45’s and no imagination.

If the creators had used their minds a little more, this wouldn’t have been such a waste of time.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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