I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm always delighted to see a new, original musical comedy that isn't based on a movie (it wouldn't be original if it were) or based on pop hits of the past (ditto). So I went to LEGACY FALLS with some trepidation but hoping for the best. The show needs some pruning (too long by about twenty minutes), but nonetheless is delightful.
"LEGACY FALLS" is a long-running American daytime soap opera. Some of its cast has been with the show for all of its thirty years. The script has gone through the usual mad permutations of daytime soaps. However, like current soaps, LEGACY FALLS is threatened with extinction. A new producer has been brought in to make the show more interesting to a young audience (more skin, more sex) and a special live broadcast is planned in which an earthquake will wipe out half of the cast so younger actors can take their place. None of the actors knows who will survive the earthquake. The show's handsome, grey-haired leading man starts a romance with a cute young PR man and is outed which could ruin his career. We seen some typically inane scenes from the soap opera. Can you really parody material as absurd as the scripts of daytime soaps?. Nonethelesss, the scenes are hilarious and acted with all the deadpan conventions of soap opera acting.
LEGACY FALLS is a rarity -- a musical in which score, book and lyrics are by the same person (James Burn). The funny scenes are really funny, particularly the live earthquake broadcast which does not follow the script. In fact, the show would be better if it kept its tongue in its cheek. The sentimental moments clash with the overall tone of the piece -- the love songs between the star ad his boyfriend, the PFLAG ballad of the boyfriend's mother. If the offset moments were as zany as the onset moments, this would be a fine show instead of a very good one. But the score is very strong, most of the lyrics good, particularly in the comic numbers. I particularly liked the first act finale, "Soap Is a Dirty Business." And I must say I actually came out of the theater humming some of the tunes. Overall the direction is effective, though sometimes the show seems to stop cold at the ends of scenes.
The cast is very strong. Mark Inscoe looks perfect as the tanned, greying leading man and Tim Oxbrow is charming as his young boyfriend. Tara Hugo is hilarious as the reigning bitch of the soap terrified of losing her job. I particularly liked Aimie Atkinson's performance as Amber, who slept her way into a role but is so dumb she thinks what is happening on the soap is real. Everybody sings well and the small band is terrific, though the sound is much too loud.
I hope LEGACY FALLS has a future. It deserves more than a limited run. The audience loved it.
LEGACY FALLS by James Burn. Directed by Ian Poitier. New Players Theatre. November 14, 2010.