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The Book of Merman

| April 3, 2015

The Book of Merman

Pride Films and Plays

Mary’s Attic/Apollo Theater Studio, Chicago, IL, February 13, 2015

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Dan Gold, Sam Button-Harrison, Libby Lane

Dan Gold, Sam Button-Harrison, Libby Lane

Conceived by director David Zak, with book, music and lyrics by Leo Schwartz, The Book of Merman is funny. If you are a musical theater maven, it’s even funnier. It’s goofy plot puts the “s” in silly, but it works. Two young, stiff-necked Mormon missionaries seeking to fulfill their conversion quota stumble upon the home of a now-retired Ethel Merman played by Libby Lane. Ms. Merman, more than willing to donate a check, is delighted by Elder Aaron’s adulation and passion for musical theater, yet displeased by Elder Jacob’s disdain for matters not by the Book (of Mormon). However, and with be true to thyself-focused musical advice from Merman, the elders recognize their true callings, which include gay love.

Lane can belt, especially in her lower register, and definitely channels Merman. Sam Button-Harrison and Dan Gold sing well, although even in this campy show, Gold (as Elder Jacob) sometimes needed more energy. The songs spoofs Merman classics without being true parodies. “Most People,” conjures Gypsy’s “Some People” and “She’s Me” recalls the iconic “Rose’s Turn.”

If you’re looking for James Dean-esque method acting, stay home. If you’re looking to laugh hard, open up The Book of Merman.

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Category: Chicago, Chicago Musical Theatre Reviews, Musical Theatre Reviews, Off-Broadway Reviews, Regional

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