This review of the Musical Comedy Revue entitled "Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know" was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume I, Issue 1 (November, 1997) of Applause! Applause!
"Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know" - Musical Comedy Revue
The Triad (158 West 72nd Street, NYC)
Twelve individuals contributed songs and sketches to this musical comedy revue which is very loosely based on Wendy Perrin's book, "Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know". This revue is short on secrets and long on laughs. James Darrah leads a very talented cast through some difficult material which reflects the different styles of the many contributors to this project.
Some of the numbers are brilliantly written and excellently performed. In this category, I would place "Salzburg" by Stan Freeman and performed by the entire cast; "Naked in Pittsburgh" by Lesley Davison, which is performed by James Darrah and leaves you wanting to see more; and "Customs" written and performed by Jay Leonhart. On the other hand, "Uzbekistan", brilliantly performed by Stan Freeman, was ruined for me by the composer's disregard for factual accuracy in the lyrics. The reference to having to turn at the equator to get there would place Uzbekistan somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This lack of factual accuracy plagues a number of the other numbers in this revue. In addition, the number "Hawaiian Musical Instruments" by Michael Brown makes euphemistic references to breasts, and to both male and female genitalia. This song would have been a hoot in the 1940's, but now that we have been desensitized to all things sexual, the best that can be said of the song is that it was cute.
On the other hand, the cast exudes a lot of energy and there are some very funny moments. An Englishman, asked how he found the world in the number "Private Wives" by Barry Creyton, responds "very untidy." Another funny moment took place in one of the "This is Your Captain Speaking" skits by Stan Freeman, where the captain announces that there will be no meals served to Economy Class on this particular Air India flight, but that Economy Class passengers "will each be issued a small wooden bowl and are invited to go to 1st Class and beg."
Overall, I enjoyed the revue. Although uneven in parts, you can't beat the price for an enjoyable evening of live entertainment.