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Baby Wants Candy

Lovers of comedy and musical theater are sure to enjoy this troupe's completely improvised musicals. logo
Jeff Hiller, Mike Still, Nicole Parker, Michael Kayne,
Peter Gwinn, and Rebecca Drysdale
in Baby Wants Candy
Baby Wants Candy, now playing at the SoHo Theatre (where it shares the stage with The Divine Sister), is bringing a little welcome Chicago-style comedy to downtown Manhattan. Better still, since these completely improvised musicals are based on title suggestions from the audience, you can go back again and again and never see the same show.

I was lucky enough to see the opening (and closing) night of Nuclear Zombie Terrorists: The Musical, and while there were indeed zombies, most of the plot and songs revolved around typical musical fodder: star-crossed lovers, non-committal husbands, and the ugly duckling who just wants to be prom queen. This universality of themes in the oddest of situations is perhaps the most telling aspect of Baby Wants Candy's musical theater philosophy.

The rotating cast includes some stellar comedy talent -- at my performance, I was fortunate enough to see the hilarious Jeff Hiller (most recently part of the company of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), the impressive Nicole Parker (a veteran of Wicked and MAD TV), Michael Kayne, Mike Still and Rebecca Drysdale.

But it is very clear that the glue holding this show together is founding member Peter Gwinn, who played no fewer than three characters over the course of the night, including a rather convincing Will Smith.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring performance of the evening came from musical director Jody Shelton and his band, charged with the task of improvising genre-appropriate musical accompaniment for the actors. The ability to spontaneously coordinate between the four musicians in the pit and the six actors on stage must require some sort of ESP.

While the show is improvisational in nature, some moments felt inevitable, like the freestyle rap finale that very quickly tied up any loose ends left in the plot. Nonetheless, lovers of comedy and musical theater will find themselves in for some nice surprises.

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