There are two ways to enjoy The Musical of Musicals, a spoof of musical theater divided into five parts, each of which takes down a different, very familiar, creative force, including Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Musical theater nerds who geeked out at Tom Hooper's Les Miserables while insisting that nothing comes close to a live stage production, will catch every nod, dig and jab made to all their favorite shows.
But patrons who have no idea who Kander and Ebb even are will still enjoy seeing the time-honored traditions of musical theater ripped to shreds. In other words, even if you're not a super-fan, the Actors Theatre of Indiana's latest production is good fun.
The founding members of the company - Cynthia Collins, Don Farrell and Judy Fitzgerald - are joined by the hilarious Dave Ruark as they each take turns portraying familiar musical theater archetypes: the ingénue, the villain, the sage diva, the strapping young lad. Ruark fits in well with the group; they all play the material for cheese and for laughs.
But it's Brent E. Marty, as the sassy piano player who guides us from genre to genre, who stands apart. A fixture of Civic Theater's creative team and music director for the show, Marty plays a feisty musical theater fan whose every glance, sigh and giggle acknowledges all the devices employed by practically every traditional musical. His engagement and energy ties it all together.
The IRT's resident dramaturge, Richard J. Roberts, employs his vast knowledge of theater history as the show's director, wringing every bit of comedy out of the book.