Review: ‘The Book of Merman’ during DC Arts Center

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Review by Jason Williams

Playfully tagged as a reduction costly choice to The Book of Mormon, that it satirizes, The Book of Merman fast moves over only being a satire of a aforementioned award-winning Broadway hit. Written by Leo Schwartz and creatively achieved in 2015 Landless Theatre Company’s prolongation of The Book of Merman is a low-pitched story all a own, both beguiling and enchanting on mixed levels.

(l-r) Charles W Johnson (Elder Shumway), Ally Jenkins (Ethel), and Ernie Achenbach (Elder Braithwaite). Photo pleasantness of Landless Theatre Company.

Similar to The Book of Mormon, The Book of Merman centers on a mischance of dual Salt Lake City Latter-day Saints pulsation a cement and pity a gospel. After a quite tough day, a twin Elder Braithwaite, played by Ernie Achenbach, and Elder Shumway, played by Charles Johnson, solve to strike on one some-more doorway before they call it a day. What is apparent from lights adult is Achenbach and Johnson have implausible theatre chemistry. The impression of Elder Braithwaite is combined as a through-and-through optimist, while Elder Shumway is some-more cynical. However, as Johnson and Achenbach orchestrate tones on duets like “My Heart’s Someplace Else” or trade their versions of swear words, these characters pierce behind and onward from sugarine honeyed to salty, as they work by a tragedy of a narrative. Neither Shumway nor Braithwaite have a corner on wit, sassiness, doubt, or boldness; any gives The Book of Merman good change from start to finish.

And afterwards there is Ethel Merman. Merman is played splendidly by Ally Jenkins. Even if we travel into The Book of Merman not totally clued into a low and abounding story of one of a china shade and theatre conspicuous streamer ladies we will be okay. Jenkins and a low-pitched will deliver we to a full-on Ethel Merman experience. As predestine would have it, Merman is Shumway and Braithwaite’s final doorway of a day. They accommodate as a singer is streamer out to run an critical errand and their common tour starts. “Be a Merman” is a trade series where all 3 actors arrangement their smashing voices and comedic timing.

The numbers in this low-pitched are substantial: center of a stage, low light, full voice, toe-tapping, applause-demanding, and hardy. Because there is a bit of story in this musical, a songs cover opposite time periods, so there are uncover tunes, jazzier songs, and ones that are ballads.

Music Director and accompanist Darin Stringer does a superb pursuit of provision a song for all 3 performers. Stage Manager Amanda Williams should be unapproachable of a pursuit she did removing implausible use of a smaller theatre area with some ace repurposing of several props.

For a low-pitched that has 3 beliefs players The Book of Merman never feels lacking in volume or suggestive dialogue. The low-pitched avoids being overproduced as a lighting changes are minimal, a habit changes are slight, and a anecdotist is not used. Director Andrew Lloyd Baughman, who is also on a care group of a Landless Theatre Company, allows a good aforementioned group members, in further to Laura Martin who is a musical’s choreographer, to work together seamlessly.

Whereas The Book of Mormon was about a doubt of eremite practices opposite a oppressive realities faced in a Ugandan village. The Book of Merman has any impression scuffle with a infrequently diverging paths of a devout and conceivable callings. The low-pitched engages a theme of sexuality though stays divided from distinguished an overly critical tinge on a topic. This low-pitched finds a fortitude in a full-throated self-acceptance.

Of a 16 songs sung, a strenuous infancy are both appreciative to hear and offer to pierce a account along. There are dual selections that strike rare records for dual opposite reasons. The tongue-in-cheek “If It’s Not Hard, we don’t Like It” is funny, though for regressive viewers: a blue amusement could be a bit of a jolt. Then there is a genre-stretching series by Merman, Braithwaite, and Shumway that feels like a bit of a strech even within a 0 sobriety star that has been created. Nevertheless, if we are looking for a fun low-pitched that offers a singular viewpoint on some critical topics, that literally invites we to be a partial of a show.

The Book of Merman is value a outing to Adams Morgan. Of sold significance for readers in this space, this prolongation is dedicated to DC Metro Theater Arts Founder and Editor Emeritus Joel Markowitz. Even if we are new to this space as we am, Joel’s bequest is apparent.

Running Time: 90 mins with no intermission.

The Book of Merman plays Dec 8, during a DC Arts Center- 2438 18th Street North West Washington, D.C. For tickets call 202-462-7833 squeeze them online.

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