By Linda Amiel Burns
THE BARDY BUNCH: THE WAR OF THE FAMILIES PARTRIDGE AND BRADY at Theatre at St. Clement’s is full of melodies, murder, mayhem and merriment.
The Bardy Bunch premiered at Fringe NYC and is now at Theatre at St. Clements for a limited engagement until April 13th. This production has been described as a “comedy mash-up of a dozen Shakespeare plays set in the 1970’s and featuring two classic TV families.” The show is written by Stephen Garvey and directed by Jay Stern with a cast of 18 talented singers and dancers, some playing several roles. The amusing premise is that we join the families just as their TV shows have ceased airing and the rivalry begins as they both go on tour. The program describes this situation that since they are “no longer under America’s watchful eye, they meet on a collision course in a blood-soaked, vengeance-fueled, lust-filled crossover episode of Shakespearean proportions.”
Sean McDermott and Lori Hammel play Mike and Carol Brady who are akin to the Macbeths and start out by killing Mike’s boss so that Mike can take over the business. Mr. Phillip’s ghost appears every so often as in Hamlet and, as others are murdered or meet untimely deaths, the stage fills up with suddenly appearing ghosts. The Brady kids are portrayed by Greg (Zach Trimmer), Peter (Matthew Dorsey Moore) Bobby (Chaz Jackson), Marcia (Cali Elizabeth Moore), Jan (Annie Watkins), Cindy (Talisa Friedman) and even their faithful housekeeper Alice (Joan Lunoe) joins the family to comfort Carol and her flock.
Kristy Cates plays Shirley Partridge who marries the group’s manager, the goofy Reuben Kincaid (Thomas Poarch), much to the dismay of her son Danny (Chuck Bradley), who sometimes quotes lines from Hamlet as he plots to kill his mother’s lover. The other Partridge kids are Keith (Erik Keiser), Laurie (Christiana Little), Chris (Alex Goley), Tracey (Danielle Sacks) and playing multiple roles are Mitch McCarrell and Mike Timoney.
The rivalry heats up when Marcia Brady falls in love with heartthrob Keith Partridge and the families become the Capulets and the Montagues as in Romeo and Juliet hating each other and trying to keep the two young lovers apart. Then Greg Brady falls for Laurie Partridge and all hell breaks loose. Danny Partridge tries to kill Reuben but stabs Cindy instead. From then on the bodies pile up one after another and, all the while, the cast sings15 hit songs made famous by the two teen groups and integrating them into the plot, including “I Think I Love You,” “It’s a Sunshine Day” and “I Woke Up in Love This Morning.”
The show is well cast with talented singers who each resemble their counterparts and that helps to play up the silliness. Lorna Ventura’s choreography adds to the fun, as it resembles the moves of the teen pop groups of the time. The Bardy Bunch is a spoof and it is amusing watching the chaos that ensues as the two families collide, love and die in the manner of Shakespeare’s plays. If you were a fan of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge families, then you will get the references and inside jokes allowing you to fully enjoy the melodies, murder, merriment and mayhem!
The Bardy Bunch continues at Theatre at St. Clement’s (423 West 46th Street) until April 13th. For tickets: www.thebardbunch.com.