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Seth Rudetsky's Disaster!

This musical spoof of 1970s "disaster" movies is downright hilarious.

Seth Rudetsky and Lauren Kennedy
in Seth Rudetsky's Disaster!
(© Drew Geraci)
Spoofing, to be effective, requires a deep-seated knowledge of -- and better yet, fondness for -- the target genre. As it happens, Seth Rudetsky, besides being a savant regarding all things Broadway, can also boast an encyclopedic grasp of 1970s pop-culture kitsch, and in his new chamber musical Seth Rudetsky's Disaster!, playing Sunday nights at the Triad, he and writing partner Jack Plotnick have exhumed every last cinematic/phonographic catastrophe from the vaults, while cleverly interpolating several novel crises of their own invention.

This jukebox extravaganza, featuring a four-man rock band and sixteen antic actors, takes place during the grand opening of "Pier 54," a floating casino on the Hudson. In classic musical fashion, the show starts off with micro-intros sketching the various dramatis personae and their objectives.

Hunky cater-waiter Chad (mellifluous Zak Resnik) and his dweeby sidekick Scott (Paul Castree) are both hoping to score with the ladies, while sleazy casino boss Tony (Clif Thorn) is intent on serving his celeb guests warm hors-d'oeuvres, despite the fact that the kitchen isn't up to code.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ted Scheider (Rudetsky himself, playing way against type as a stone-faced, humorless "disaster expert") is nosing about, concerned that there might be some unusual geothermal activity going on underfoot. The theme binding their interwoven concerns? Why, "Lookin' for some hot stuff," of course.

It just gets sillier from there. Hoping to wrest a proposal from Tony, bubblehead chanteuse Jackie (Lauren Kennedy) is trying to keep her young twins, Ben and Lisa, on their best behavior. Clark Oliver, whose vocal prowess raises the bar for the highly accomplished adults present, plays both Ben and Lisa with laid-back aplomb, employing amusingly transparent, tongue-in-cheek stage "trickery."

Also prowling about the boat is a scowling, hectoring nun (Anika Larsen), whose habit just might be cloaking a few residual vices, and the staunchly feminist junior journalist Marianne Reilly (Carrie Manolakos), who's hoping to score an investigative coup for Cosmo.

And let us not forget fallen-on-hard-times disco diva Levora (Lacretta Nicole), reduced to extorting "tips" from fans seeking photo ops, and a comically affectionate older New York couple, Shirley and Maury (Kathy Fitzgerald and Drew Geraci), one of whom is harboring a dire secret that will soon uproariously out.

It's a heady mix of archetypes, which the authors and players manage to make touchingly - and hilariously - three-dimensional, in the face of one impending catastrophe after another. Earthquake, tsunami, killer bees, fire in the hole - what won't befall this ragtag and increasingly bedraggled bunch?

Every time they adjudge themselves "All Right Now," some worse disaster looms. However, the only misadventures you need fear is the likelihood that your face will never recover from laughing this hard, or that the show will sell out during the show's brief run before you can catch it.