Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

Bigfoot: A Brand New Musical Comedy
Majestic Repertory Theatre
Review by Mary LaFrance

Also see Mary's review of She Loves Me


Caption: Aaron Barry, Bobby Lang, and Bree Forsberg
Photo Courtesy of Majestic Repertory Theatre
If you've spotted a furry seven-footer loping down Main Street in the Las Vegas Arts District, then you've encountered the latest tenant at the Majestic Repertory Theatre, which this month brings us the world premiere of the preternaturally goofy Bigfoot: A Brand New Musical Comedy. Co-written by Amber Ruffin ("Late Night with Seth Meyers") and Kevin Sciretta (The Improvised Shakespeare Company; Second City), with music by David Schmoll, Bigfoot pokes good-natured fun at the elusive wilderness beast and the foolish humans hot on his trail.

We find ourselves in the bankrupt town of Mud Dirt, whose down-on-their-luck residents (population 69) are led by a perennially drunk mayor with a gambling problem. Rather than admit that he has lost all of the town's money, the mayor—in the grand tradition of political demagogues—finds an outside enemy to blame. On the vague premise that slaying that enemy will turn their fortunes around, he rallies the town to hunt down and kill Bigfoot.

Unbeknownst to the townies, Bigfoot is just a big-hearted adolescent with a pituitary problem, the result of a tryst between his mother Francine and an itinerant carny in the shadow of a malfunctioning nuclear power plant. Urged by his mother and a caring doctor to make his life in the wilderness where he won't be harmed by those who fear him, Bigfoot is beset by loneliness and homesickness, but maintains a hopeful outlook on life.

This production should probably be viewed as an early workshop for a work in progress, as the show has a long way to go before it will be ready for prime time. Several plot devices don't make sense. (In a town of 69, only the doctor knows who Bigfoot is?) There are too many running gags that aren't that funny the first time around, and are considerably less funny after many repetitions. The drunken mayor and the sickly Francine are one-note characters whose scenes quickly become repetitious. Much of the show feels like sketch comedy that has overstayed its welcome. The songs are pleasant, but most are unmemorable—one exception being the bouncy "Mud Dirt" anthem that runs through the show. Jenna Szoke's choreography, modest but well performed, elevates the musical sequences.

The best conceptual elements of the show are the idea of Bigfoot as a sweet but misunderstood kid, and the satirical depiction of politicians who cultivate xenophobia to mask their own malfeasance. In a nicely ironic twist, when Bigfoot finally makes a friend, she is a paranoid survivalist/conspiracy theorist who is holed up in the woods to escape from constant government surveillance. The scenes between Bigfoot (nicely played by Venus Cobb) and the survivalist Joanne (a delightful Jenelle Magbutay) are the highlights of the show.

Under Troy Heard's direction, the capable ensemble gives the show's creators a fine opportunity to evaluate their work and plan their next steps. There's a nugget of a good show here. It's just hiding in the woods.

Bigfoot: A Brand New Musical Comedy, through July 21, 2018 (Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday, July 15, at 5 pm), at the Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., Las Vegas NV. For tickets ($25 adults, $15 students) or further information, visit www.majesticrepertory.com.

Cast:
Bigfoot: Venus Cobb
Francine: Anita Bean
Doctor: Mike Vargovich
Mayor: Bobby Lang
Joanne: Jenelle Magbutay
Ensemble: Matthew Antonizick, Jillian Austin, Aaron Barry, Holly Heneks, Bree Forsberg, Karsten Pudwill

Additional Creative:
Choral Direction by Dina Emerson; Scenic and Costume Design by The Design Ninjas; Lighting Design by Aria Morris.


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