The kingdom of Egypt is horribly in debt to the Roman government -- due to frivolous spending by Julius Caesar (Bruce Sabath) on gifts for Queen Cleopatra (Erika Amato). So Marc Antony (Bret Shuford) arrives to uncover the cause and punish those responsible. But then the court's soothsayer (Ryan Williams) forecasts that Antony will fall in love with Cleopatra, and sets into motion a series of farcical events.
Phillip Capice, Anne Hitchner, and Robert Keuch's book and lyrics are witty and clever, and Kenneth Hitchner Jr.'s music ranges from jazz to pop. The story smartly mixes ancient Egyptian history with contemporary references, such as American Idol (which becomes Egyptian Idol here). In one of the show's funnier songs, "Farewell Ladies," Caesar recalls the lovely times he has shared with his mistresses -- who include Paris Hilton, Janet Jackson, and Sarah Palin.
The entire cast is blessed with comedic talent, but none more so than Williams, who not only brings a flamboyant, hippiesh vibe to his Soothsayer, but transforms himself repeatedly into a number of different characters with incredible versatility. (He is at his finest as a hunchbacked, pouty servant full of sarcasm and wit.)
Also a delight to have on the stage is Beth Cheryl Tarnow, a comedic actress who makes Caesar's annoying daughter Lunia impeccably grating and dopey, all to the audience's pleasure.
' Tara Jeanne Vallee's choreography is so big that it would be a blast to see it on a bigger stage, as the actors seemed somewhat cramped at times. Costume designer Gail Baldoni uses shiny lamé materials, gorgeous colors, and hints of modern design to create the beautiful period costumes. Conversely, set designer Robert Andrew Kovach could have done more with the space.
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