Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: I Thinketh I Love Thou, Thee Sunshine Day

Life after Fringe Festival is either nonexistent or fruitful. Thankfully after a 2011 successful Fringe run, The Bardy Bunch is back and better than ever! Drawing inspiration from Shakespeare’s biggest characters and infamous plots, 70s sitcom families The Bradys and The Partridges are engaged in an all out war. Filled with inside jokes, references, and the iconic songs from both shows, writer Stephen Garvey gives each clan member a Shakespearean persona that propels the story into an epic finale.
Though not much has changed within the script since the previous production, The Bardy Bunch chronicles post cancellation life of the epic clans where Shirley Partridge begins a love with Reuben Kincaid while a jealous Danny Partridge vows to avenge his father for his disloyal mother while Chris and Tracy Partridge seek to take down their brother while star-crossed lovers Marsha Brady and Keith Partridge try to hide their love from the families while Mike and Carol Brady kill Mike’s boss in order to rise to power while Greg Brady vows to destroy the Partridges but befriends Snake, who’s actually Laurie Partridge in disguise while Peter practices his magical sorcery while Bobby and Cindy Brady remain eternally adorable and Jan Brady is fully engulfed in being forgotten. Oh and don’t forget about Alice, the loveable maid who knows way too much. For those Shakespeare scholars, you know exactly who which character takes on. Throw in everything you loved about the TV Land staples, and you have an enjoyable night away from the television.
The ensemble is quite impressive in talent. Some of the returning standouts include Talisa Friedman as adorably lispy Cindy, star-crossed lovers Erik Keiser and Cali Elizabeth Moore as Keith and Marcia, and Jan Brady perfectionist Annie Watkins. Of course some the new clan members in the cast do a superb job representing the Bradys and Partridges. Matthew Dorsey Moore brings a loveable charm to Peter while Chaz Jackson lands the dorkiness of Bobby. Kristy Cates takes on everybody’s other favorite mother Shirley Partridge with ease. Chuck Bradley, Alex Goley, and Danielle Sacks add much depth to the youngest Partidge kids Danny, Chris, and Tracy respectively, but it’s Mitch McCarrell who steals the show in quite possibly the best inside joke of the show. His phenomenal number in Act II is electric, allow McCarrell to truly be the biggest rock star of the show.
Director Jay Stern brings nostalgia to the max. A great deal of detail is taken as far as honoring both the Bard and the classic sitcoms. Even the way he has his company exit the stage and button the scenes screams sitcom. With attention to these details allows for the campy nature of the show to shine. Choreographer Lorna Ventura borrows many of the signature moves but also finds a wonderful balance between originality and iconic. For a show that should have grown since it’s previous festival setting, the set and lights by Craig Napoliello and Howard Binkley respectively left so much to be desired. There seemed to be too many restrictions that compromised for some staging.
For a show rich on nostalgia, The Bardy Bunch cashes in. This truly is a show that you will keep on humming along and getting happy.