A show that wittily skewers greed and power-lust in all its forms.
By Joel Benjamin
Michael Roberts who wrote the book and the songs for Greed: A Musical for Our Time has targeted a lot of sitting ducks, easy prey, but more often than not, he makes devastating mincemeat out of all the possible forms of greed and power-lust, from an infant not parting with his toys and his mother’s breast, to the scoundrel Bernie Madoff and his cruel Ponzi scheme. Even Mr. Ponzi, himself, comes in for a licking!
Four marvelous performers, who change character—and costumes—with lightning speed, give life to Mr. Roberts’ songs which go from the obvious “I Like Things,” a paean to the worship of material things to an especially timely “When I Saw the Doctor,” a bashing of the medical establishment, lead by the ebullient Stephanie D’Abruzzo (of Avenue Q fame).
Often the songs fly happily past the borders of political correctness as in “Another Kid,” sung by Julia Burrows as a welfare mother who profits from bearing children, and “It’s Bernie,” led by James Donegan as a flamboyant Bernie Madoff where some references to his religion may offend some.
The second of three “It’s Mine” songs—the first involved the above-mentioned infant—shows Ms. D’Abruzzo and Ms. Burrows lusting after works of art for all the wrong reasons. “Passing the Mortgages,” sung by the company (which also includes Neal Mayer), is an incredibly apt critical look at the makings of the huge financial boondoggle that impoverished the United States and much of the world. In “Financial Advisor” a couple gets a lesson in gobbledygook jargon as they seek financial help. Charles Ponzi comes in for a not so good-natured ribbing in a witty tarantella called “Charlie’s Song,” sung by Mr. Donegan. Medical insurance companies, wives killing husbands for their money and tax cheats all come under Mr. Robert’s eagle-eyed analysis in songs that range in style from pop to Latin to ethnic. The four performers are constantly on the go switching characters with split-second timing, each singing and acting with skill. It’s hard to imagine a better cast, all so different from each other, whose voices and acting styles mesh so well. It’s a credit to Christopher Scott’s direction.
The simple set by Josh Iacovelli, of a very modern table and chairs which become everything from offices to hospital rooms, was brilliant as were the costumes of Dustin Cross.
But, it is Mr. Roberts’ songs that take the place of honor. He has a gift for satire and is both musically and lyrically literate—and lots of fun!
*Photos: Carol Rosegg
Greed: A Musical for Our Times
New World Stages – Stage 2
340 West 50th St.
New York, NY
Tickets: 212-239-6200 or www.newworldstages.com
More Information” www.greedmusical.com
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission