Theater Brian Noffke and Nick Carpenter in 'The Big Bang' at Theatre on the Square

The Big Bang

Theatre on the Square

Directed by Ron Spencer

Through Jan. 22

The 2005 theater season kicked off New Year's Eve, when Theatre on the Square opened The Big Bang. That title screams for some kind of pun, but the show is more of a squawk.

The premise is that two guys have written an $80.5 million musical that covers the history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present. It utilizes hundreds of actors, elaborate sets and a cornucopia of costumes. However, for this performance, the two are going to give us, the audience, i.e., the prospective backers, a duo performance of the "highlights" using only the equipment that can be pillaged from the swanky Lipbalm apartment where we are seated. By the end of the show, the apartment is a catastrophe and the Lipbalms are on their way back home - early. So the remainder of the 20th century gets truncated into a "We Didn't Start the Fire" rundown of what we are missing.

The show is supposed to be "so bad it's good," but the script and musical numbers aren't really funny enough to pull that idea off and tend more towards the corny. A few good laughs are to be had - a snake tempting Eve with a banana, a ridiculously short Bonaparte, the requisite drag numbers, etc.

Bravely taking on the history of the world are R. Brian Noffke and Nick Carpenter, along with Ray Lahrman on keyboards. Noffke, especially, is in his element here, and succeeds despite the script's shortcomings. He and Carpenter both throw themselves into the humor headlong - a vital necessity in a comedy like this one. They milk what they can from the humor (and on Saturday night, even the flubs, which garnered the biggest laughs).

Lahrman, who is also the musical and vocal director, shows why he is such a highly regarded talent in Indianapolis.

The Big Bang (originally titled Free Food and Frontal Nudity, after the song Adam and Eve sing in the Garden), directed by Ron Spencer, continues through Jan. 22. Call the theater, 627 Massachusetts Ave., at 685-TOTS for info and reservations.

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