Friday, December 2, 2011

Applause! Applause! Review of "The Best Sex Of The XX Century Sale" by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of the Musical Comedy Revue entitled "The Best Sex Of The XX Century Sale" was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume I, Issue 1 (November, 1997) of Applause! Applause!

"The Best Sex of the XX Century Sale" - Musical Comedy Revue
The Duplex (61 Christopher Street, NYC)

This musical revue is a mock auction of items that have some connection to societal attitudes toward sex in the 20th Century, highlighted by songs and skits illustrating the various eras. Moments of this revue are hilariously funny and well written. The majority of the actors are very talented individuals who I would not mind seeing again in another venue. Unfortunately, there is a whole other side to this revue that is not funny, gross, unprofessional and poorly written.

There are some special moments in this revue. So many in fact that I feel with the proper re-writing, this revue could become extraordinarily popular. It has great potential. Some of the musical numbers are full song parodies; some are only a few lines long. By far, my favorite numbers dealt with sex in the 50's and 60's. These were full production numbers that were wonderfully staged and perfectly directed. Other numbers or snippets of numbers I liked were "I Am Woman/Get Back"; "Those Were The Days"; "Sex & Violence"; "J. Edgar Hoover"; "Masturbational Blues"; "It's My Phone Bill And I'll Call If I Want To"; "A Bi-Sexual Built for Two" and "That's Why The Lady's Still A Man." The funniest line in the revue takes place when Michael Vaccaro, in his naturally long blond hair and beautiful black formal gown, appears on stage in drag and announces in his deepest voice, after a perfectly timed pause, "Hello, I'm Kathleen Turner." This was such a funny line that it actually stopped the show, while the audience continued to laugh out loud. Another funny line was delivered by Calypso Man who, when speaking of Paula Jones and President Clinton, says to music "Paula Jones says his (penis) is of a special sort. But I say the evidence will not stand up in Court."

There are some fine actors in this cast. Leading the pack are Michael Vaccaro and Marcus Weiss. Michael Vaccaro is a very talented actor who has a great stage presence. His consistently excellent performance blew me away. I look forward to seeing more of his work. Marcus Weiss also has a strong voice and is an excellent actor. Weiss has a great build and was given the opportunity to show it off. Many others in the cast are superior actors and will be seen again.

I could end my review here. However, if I did, I would not be fair to my readers who expect to get a full and impartial review. Therefore, I will now comment on those aspects of the revue which I found to be unfunny, gross, unprofessional and poorly written. An example of a gross comment would be the line "would someone please clean the cum off this floor; How am I supposed to work here!"

Groin kicks were used in a few instances to generate some cheap laughs. They are no longer funny to this male reviewer. Their use shows a lack of imagination. It's almost turning into a men's right's issue. It leaves you wanting to kick the female attacker back where it would hurt her. I doubt the audience would find that very funny!!

There were many missed cues and at least three scenes where the props failed to arrive on time. Some scenes had to be cut from the revue due to time factors. However, from my vantage point, it appeared that the actors hadn't rehearsed the cuts beforehand. There were some song parodies and skits that were just not funny and poorly written. It would not be difficult for the writers and director to ascertain which those sections were. All they would have to do is listen to their audiences. However, this is not possible since the writers and the director are acting in the production.

I also did not feel that many of the impressions performed were up to professional standards. Finally, there is the issue of personal hygiene. The night I saw the production, one man, who often appears with bare feet, had failed to clip his toenails in quite some time. In addition, one of the lead male actors, who otherwise had a good body, might have considered a back wax in light of the fact that his role called for him to play a sex symbol. The final negative comment I will make is that the actors themselves seemed very unhappy with this production. Two actors I knew apologized to me afterwards that I had to see this production. Another was willing to go on record with a whole list of complaints, none of which I shall repeat here.

"The Best Sex of the XX Century Sale" can be saved. It can be fine tuned, re-written and more tightly directed. This show has the potential to become a crowd pleaser.

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