by Holly Rizzuto Palker
Book and Lyrics by Robin Rothstein; Music by Jeff Thomson; Choreographed by Robin Levine; Directed by Austin Regan; Produced by Ava, Max & Peter Cane
Off Broadway, New Musical Runs through 1-3-16 New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street. NYC
Click here for ticket information.
My kids were hooked on Mad Libs Live! from the minute the crew handed them, and the rest of the audience, the colorful post-it papers for which to provide their own unique nouns, adjective, verbs and adverbs. Their interest remained intact through to the standing ovation and afterwards as they collected these post-its from the floor of the stage to keep as souvenirs. How do I know? – None of my kids asked how many more minutes were left or if they could use the bathroom mid-way through the show. Mad Libs Live! – your mission was accomplished!
Mad Libs Live! is an interactive family musical inspired by the popular fill-in-the-blanks game Mad Libs. The story goes like this: four teenagers from Blankville Central High School with little in common, come together to form a singing group and try to win the title, “Teen Superstars!” Mad Libs Live! Is set during the live, televised competition when the teens realize that the songs they are about to sing have words missing. Thank goodness these discombobulated kids have the audience there to help them fill in the blanks!
Mad Libs Live! is reminiscent of High School Musical, Rent and Who’s Line is it Anyway? all rolled into one. The fun really started when Virtuosa (Lindsey Brett Carothers) sang “How to be Famous”. Her improvisational abilities were impressive. The whole cast was able randomly pick out words (that the audience provided) from buckets labeled with the parts of speech and incorporate them into their songs and dialogue while personifying each word. This is no easy task that these actors have all mastered!
The best part of the show, for my kids, was when each of their words were used by the actors. My son was beyond tickled when they turned the house lights on and Gogo (JeanFranco Cardentey) addressed him in the audience to thank him for providing the silly word “monkey”. For me, the best part of the whole thing was that my seven-year-old left the theater understanding the meaning of each part of speech. Who could ask for more? Mad Libs Live! was an entertaining, fun, language arts lesson set to music. It was also fast paced (ended in just under and hour) without an intermission. From a parent’s point-of-view it was nirvana.
With songs like “My Oily Tatter Tot”- which will change with each performance – and zany lines like, “I’m the most glorious chocolate”, we couldn’t help ourselves but laugh out loud.
The choreography rocked. Although the music had an 80’s synthesized sound, which isn’t my personal favorite, it was snappy and the lyrics were clever. Merrily (Melody Madrasz) had a beautiful voice that was very enjoyable to listen to and we wanted to hear her sing even more. Memorable songs from the show were “Disaster” and “You Give Me Meaning”.
My ten-year-old commented that the plot was a bit simple and I agree. But, being that this is a kid’s show aimed at captivating an audience as young as seven, that was fine by us and appropriate. The characters’ had distinct personalities and especially memorable was the nerdy, Geyser (Max Joseph). Each character was dynamic and went through a positive transformation. At the end of the show the moral of the story was clear – friends are important above all else and the most meaningful thing in life is to work together as a team, not to always win.
We loved Mad Libs Live! I think a visit to see it would be a fun holiday gift for any kid aged 7 or above. It would also make for an outstanding class trip for any school.
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Click here for ticket information. Runs through 1-3-16.
Holly Rizzuto Palker
Holly received an honorable mention from The Writer’s Digest Annual Competition in the Mainstream/Literary category for her short story, THREE. She’s working on a novel called MULTICULTURAL MID-LIFE CRISIS which is about an American expat living in London. She teaches drama to pre-school children and she’s raising three of her own children, a husband, and a dog. Check her out at www.hollyrizzuto.com or follow her on twitter @hollyrizzutopal