Sunday, December 11, 2011

Applause! Applause! Review of McHale, Saegesser & Zignego in "Way Out...A Fairy Tale!" by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Vincent McHale, Scott Saegesser & Brian Zignego in a show entitled "Way Out...A Fairy Tale!" at Don't Tell Mama was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume I, Issue 4 (February, 1998) of Applause! Applause!

"Way Out...A Fairy Tale!" - McHale, Saegesser & Zignego
Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 1/31/98 at 6:30 p.m.

Brian Zignego wrote, directed and produced "Way Out...A Fairy Tale!" for which he deserves much credit. This musical revue starring Vincent McHale, Scott Saegesser and Brian Zignego is quite enjoyable to watch and contains some magical moments. The stars of the show alternately read from "Way Out...A Fairy Tale: The Book" which tells the stories of three "heroes" who are gay, as you might have guessed from the title of the show. I assume they are "heroes" because they have survived in the face of discrimination and ridicule by society. "Way Out...A Fairy Tale: The Book" needs to be re-written. The opening line from the book says "Once upon a time, in a city not unlike this one, there lived three young and handsome men! Their kingdom was vast and they had many powers, powers that most did not understand. But they were kind and gentle rulers. Patiently they waited for the right time to share their wealth of knowledge...The time has come!" I do not feel that the "heroes" shared any wealth of knowledge with the audience during the show, and other than having "gaydar," they failed to exhibit any special powers. This is a story about three boys learning that in many ways, they are just like everyone else, with the same feelings of loneliness and the same aspirations to be in loving relationships.

The first number of this musical revue did not work. It was "4 Jews in a Room Bitching" (Music & Lyrics by William Finn), sung as "3 Fags in a Room Bitching". The song was not cute. It was offensive and redundant. Offensive because it promoted the stereotyping of gay people and redundant because we already got the point that the "heroes" of the "fairy" tale were gay. The second number, "Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?" (Music & Lyrics by Frank E. Churchill & Ann Ronell) was so badly received that half the audience did not applaud at the completion of the song.

The good news is that after the first two numbers, the show instantaneously took a turn for the better. Every number from that point forward was enjoyable and entertaining. My favorites were "I Know Things Now" (Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim) sung by Zignego; "I'm In Love! I'm In Love!" (Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Additional Lyrics by Brian Zignego) sung by Saegesser; "You're The Top" (Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter, Additional Lyrics by Brian Zignego) sung by McHale, Saegesser and Zignego; "Dressing Them Up" (Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb) sung by McHale; "What More Can I Say?" (Music & Lyrics by William Finn) sung by Saegesser; "I Went To A Marvelous Party" (Music & Lyrics by Noel Coward) sung by McHale; "Who Will Love Me?" (Music by Henry Krieger, Lyrics by Bill Russell) sung by McHale, Saegesser and Zignego; a medley of "Shall We Dance", "Ten Minutes Ago", and "Some Enchanted Evening" (Music by Richard Rogers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) sung by McHale, Saegesser and Zignego; "Class" (Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb) sung by Saegesser and Zignego; "He's Here" (Music by Elmer Bernstein, Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Additional Lyrics by Scott Saegesser) sung by Saegesser; and "The Very Next Man" (Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) sung by McHale and containing the hopelessly out-of-date line "I shall marry the very next man who asks me...I'd gladly wear my arm in a sling, just for the privilege of wearing his ring".

Then just when you thought things couldn't get any better, Scott Saegesser comes out on the stage dressed as Cardinal O'Connor, sprinkling holy water on the audience, and singing "Did A Parade Go By?" (Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Additional Lyrics by Scott Saegesser) which apparently was a reference to what Cardinal O'Connor might say upon seeing the Gay Pride Parade march by St. Patrick's Cathedral. For the final number of the revue, Brian Zignego transforms himself into a beautiful woman named Rose and sings "Rose's Turn" (Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Additional Lyrics by Brian Zignego) during which she strips down to striped underwear, leaving no doubt that while Brian Zignego may be a Queen, he is also all man. Brian is then joined on stage by his co-stars, who now themselves are dressed in drag. The audience has been lifted at this point to such heights of enjoyment that they readily join in singing "This Little Light Of Mine. I'm Going To Let It Shine", lines from a gospel favorite which was offered up as the cast's encore number.

The musical director of the production was the very talented Barbara Anselmi, who was accompanied by a band which never overshadowed the excellent performances of the cast. Scott Saegesser, an extraordinary talent who should be singing in a Broadway musical is currently wasting his time at the Round Barn Theatre in Northern Indiana doing a full season of musicals. My suggestion to him is to come back to New York City to showcase his talent. He can always return to Northern Indiana either as a star or as a never-was. Vincent McHale has talent to spare and will be around for a long time. Brian Zignego has now shown the world what he can do and will soon gain a loyal following for his works and performances. I know that I will return to see future shows written, directed and produced by this rising star!

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