The Dinosaur Musical
This new show from the creators of A Year With Frog and Toad is fun for the whole family.
The show is being given a strong production under the direction of Whit MacLaughlin. It begins with the leader of the Tyrannosauri Rex, the wise King Marcus (an entertaining Christopher Sapienza), signing the "treaty of meat," effectively putting an end to the dinosaurs' nasty habit of having each other for lunch. But both Marcus and the treaty are short-lived. When the king dies -- from something he ate, apparently -- the evil Mrs. Gapp (Donna Migliaccio) and Mr. Glut (Peter Schmitz) hatch a plot to take over the T-Rex kingdom. In the politically subversive "Predator's Waltz," Glut and Gapp distort and pervert the concept of family values to promote their own selfish agenda, convincing Marcus's gentle son Quincy (Joshua Lamon) to break the treaty and declare war on the other dinosaur species.
As the T-Rexes prepare for war, we move to Swifty's Volcano Café, a throwback to the Parisian nightclubs where French resistance fighters plotted against the Nazis in the World War II movies of the late 1940s. There, owner Swifty (a Catskills-type comic, also played by Sapienza) is giving shelter to the heroic T-Rex outlaw Reginald Van Cleef (Ben Dibble) and his group of resistance fighters. Also seeking refuge at the café is Carlotta (Robyne Parrish), a cabaret singer on the comeback trail, and her 12-year-old daughter, Mindy (Kelly McCreary).
MacLaughlin moves the story along at a quick pace; rarely do more than a few moments pass before the Reales are punctuating the tale with one of the musical's 16 songs. Although none of these tunes have the show-stopping quality of the wonderful Frog and Toad number "I'm Coming Out of My Shell," the silly ode to Italian cuisine "Spaghetti" will stick in your head for hours.
The show is exceptionally well-cast. Lamon (who won a much-deserved Barrymore Award for his performance as Snail in Frog and Toad) is appropriately innocent as the young prince, and Parrish is excellent as the Ethel Merman-type songstress with the big voice and tiny dress. But it's Migliaccio who turns in the production's most memorable performance. Superb last season in the Philadelphia Theatre Company's presentation of William Finn's Elegies: A Song Cycle, she is delightfully depraved as the despicable Glut.