By PK Greenfield
Broadway vs Off-Broadway: For those who don’t know the difference regarding New York City theatre, it all depends on seating — It’s about math, money and business — above 500 hundred seats is considered Broadway, under 500 seats is Off-Broadway. Regardless of inspiration, creativity or talent, it’s about ticket sales. Now you’re in the know.
That being said…
Bedbugs!!! have taken over the ArcLight Theatre just one block off Broadway and a swat away from midtown on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Carly becomes a chemist and creates a pesticide to destroy the city’s latest bug problem after the unfortunate death of her mother due to the wrath of bedbugs. The tragedy perpetuates a career for Carly but a menace for the human race — it turns the critters into a bloodsucking, rock ’n’ roll swarm with a mission to rid the world of people.
The plot thickens with a love story and includes a chantress from north of the boarder named Dionne Salon, her French Canadian lover/manager (sound familiar?), atypical city dwellers and a spastic TV news reporter. What ensues is a musical mash-up and theatrical romp that’s zany, campy, raucous and a great deal of fun.
Grace McLean as Carly and Chris Hall as the randy and diabolical king of all bugs, Cimex (above) are a rockin’ dynamic duo with voices that at one minute made me want to headbang and the next, light a lighter and sway it in the air.
If you yearn for out-of-the-box entertainment or visiting this pestilential [and rodent infested] metropolis, it’s a must-see. (To see a naive lion cub sing with adults dressed as various animals from the Serengeti, stay closer to 42nd Street.) I recommend fleeing from Times Square and catch this show for a different New York theater experience.
Kudos to all performing insects: Danny Bolero, Nicholas Park, Tracey Conyer Lee, Barry Shafrin, Gretchen Wylder, Courtney Basset and Colin Scott Cahill.
The cast also features Brian Charles Rooney (Dionne Salon, pictured above) whose performance is as intoxicating as happy hour in a Vegas cabaret for dandies, divas and drag queens. Brava, Brian!
The music is by Paul Leschen and the book is by Fred Sauter. The show is directed and choreographed by Robert Bartley. Philip Heckman’s costumes and wigs by Bobbie Cliffton Zlotnik deserve a standing ovation if not fumigation.
The band rocks the room with Ming Aldrich-Gan (Conductor/Keyboards), Paul Heaney (Electric & Acoustic Guitar), Malcolm Gold (Bass) and Barbara Merjan (Drums & Percussion).
“Bedbugs!!! it’s a musical” has been extended at ArcLight Theatre until November 2nd but expect it to infest other theaters and cities very soon.
Photo credit: Rex Bonomelli and PK Greenfield.