I’m doing something new! I’ve never done a review of a play before! (Probably because I rarely get to see live theatre.) So this past weekend I got to see the new Team StarKid production, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals! I’ve been a fan of StarKid for about 8 or 9 years, since my friends showed me A Very Potter Musical. But this is the first time the stars have aligned and I happened to be in the same city as they were, during one of their productions.
So now I’m gonna scream about it.
For those who don’t know, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a horror comedy set in the island town of Hatchetville. Paul is a normal guy who leads a fairly unremarkable, frankly boring life. He chats with his work friends, Bill and Charlotte and Ted, gets coffee just to see the pretty barista Emma, and really does not like (you guessed it) musicals. But one night, a terrible storm arrives, and from this storm a meteor crashes to earth, right on Hatchetville. From then on, nothing is the same. Everyone is singing for no reason, and Paul is baffled and terrified — he wonders how do they all know the lyrics, let alone the choreography? He and his friends have to band together (music pun not intended) to survive this musical apocalypse.
As you might expect from the premise, this is pretty meta. References to theatre life and other stage productions abound (including an A-plus-for-accuracy shout out to Hamilton). It’s a fun twist to see a character seemingly immune to the musical pandemic. Though it’s not the first time this has happened (I’m thinking the male lead from Enchanted mostly), this is the first time I’ve seen the idea at the center of a story. And the writers pull it off very well. The plot is creative, engaging, and unexpected in very good ways.
The acting is also excellent. Jon Matteson as the title character does a terrific job, as does Lauren Lopez as Emma. Really though, everyone in this cast is fantastic! Though nearly all eight of them play multiple roles, I was never confused about who was who at any given moment. These actors are adept at occupying each character perfectly. Their comedic timing and dramatic chops make for really fun viewing, they all have strong chemistry with each other, and overall just look like they’re having an awesome time.
The overall design is minimal: not much is there in terms of backdrop, beyond the lighted panels, so the different settings are characterized by both props and lack thereof (for instance, in the office they mime typing and printing). The actors make it work, and the transitions between scenes are smooth and occasionally even funny. Props are well chosen and well made, and the costumes are great. I liked the look of the stage, and the lighting and sound teams did a superb job. The performance I attended had no issues of any kind in those regards, making for a seamless, immersive show.
I have one minor criticism, though it does not detract from my overall positive view of this show. The ending, though it does resolve the main conflict, leaves something to be desired, at least for me. Everything comes to a head pretty abruptly, and therefore is a little… unfulfilling? I’m not sure that’s quite the right word, but I think several people around me felt similarly, as many hesitated to leave. I won’t go into details here, but I think the ending will definitely spark discussion among the viewers.
In the end, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a clever, hilarious tragicomedy by a group of highly talented people. I think anyone would enjoy this, even those who — like Paul — aren’t huge fans of musical theatre. Its references and jokes would appeal both to those who love the stage and those who find the whole concept just a bit silly. The plot is exciting, mostly well paced, and enjoyable. The songs are great. The characters are well-written and relatable. The acting and design overall are (pun very much intended) stellar. Overall, this StarKid production does not disappoint. Just call me the guy who likes this musical.
Also, from what I understand, the team will be posting a recorded performance on YouTube eventually, as per their usual. Perhaps after that, I’ll post a version of this review where I talk about spoilers. I’m not quite done discussing this. I mean, I was in the same room as some of the cast of A Very Potter Musical and Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party, okay? I’m going to be delighted about this for quite some time! (Sadly, I didn’t get to meet any of the actors after the show, because I had to leave immediately so I wouldn’t get a parking ticket. LA, dude. It’s like Mad Max on those roads.)
Anyway, thanks for reading. Since this production isn’t available to the general public yet, I’ll just ask what’s your favorite StarKid musical and why? If you haven’t seen any of their musicals, go watch them. Do it. Go.
Update 2/26/19: I’m still obsessed with this musical. I love it. Whatever I said about the ending here, I’ve changed my mind; upon watching it again, I’ve decided this entire story is brilliant.
Also, my spoiler review is now posted too!