This Stephen Sondheim musical is currently playing at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC. We took the entire family to see it on Friday night, and it was enthusiastically endorsed by everyone (even the 12 year old boy who was definitely not enthusiastic about going). The humor is occasionally off-color, but most of the humor is a result of comedic slapstick and timing. The characters even occasionally interact with the audience. In one memorable scene, the main character is supposed to steal another character’s potion book out of his pocket but inadvertently fails to do so. (This is not part of the play—he just goofed.) The main character comes back on stage and promises to rehearse harder to get it right for the next performance. And then starts laughing. It was hilarious.
And in the climactic “death” scene, the main character ad libs the humor so successfully that every character onstage breaks character at some point during the scene because he or she can’t stop laughing. Somehow, this made the scene even funnier.
All the actors are excellent, but Bruce Dow, who plays the main character, is without doubt the star of the show. His comedic genius is what makes this production so successful.
At the end of the show, the audience is present to witness a (successful) proposal to one of the cast members. It was a fitting end to a highly entertaining evening. (Although I hope she doesn’t regret the costume she was wearing at the time of the proposal.) J
We give the production four thumbs up!