NY Theater Review by Sandi Durell
A little nip here, a little nip there – those bloodsuckers are out to get you!
You’ll be itching and scratching plenty at the Arclight Theatre in Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter’s new rock musical comedy spoof as what starts out as a love-lost gal named Carly (a big voiced Grace McLean) tries to wipe out those pests who were responsible for killing her mother (Gretchen Wylder). It’s like being inside the laboratory of Frankenstein as she concocts her poisonous brew, with her assistant gay brother Burt (a delicious Nicholas Park – who reminds me of Rob McClure).
As she sprays the insecticide (not real – whew), it appears that she has conquered the problem and the populace are applauding her. However, she unknowingly has developed a pesticide that enables those vermin to mutate and grow into life size bugs that prey on humans. New York City residents are in an uproar, taking to the streets, frightened not knowing what to do.
Of course, seeing the king of the giant bugs, Cimex, played by a fine looking Chris Hall, love starved Carly is immediately attracted, as is he, as Cimex and his gang click click (that’s the sound they make) their way thru some gory feasting. Of course, we know that Carly will fall madly for Cimex, as she explains to Burt in “He Pierced Me.”
Now who would think that singing star Celine Dion – oh, no – Dionne Salon would also be a part of this silliness. But she is and played by the uber-talented Brian Charles Rooney who spoofs it up and comes off as a highlight of this zany romp as she incessantly munches, but on chips and sings “Don’t Leave Me Baby” and “The End is Near.”
Director-choreographer Robert Bartley moves this cast around on the small stage with a swift hand and a style-filled panache. And I love the band on stage in the garbage dump! The set also includes a large stand-up bed and mattress thru which the players can squeeze in and out, all to the astute credit of Adam Demerath, heightened by Kirk Fitzgerald’s lighting design.
The bugs are outrageously costumed in skintight body suits of interesting color designs with tentacle headgear as they dance and sing and communicate with a click-click. Dionne is diva’d up with sparkle aplenty gowns. The clever costuming is by Philip Heckman enhanced by Bobbie Cliffton Zlotnik’s wig, hair and makeup.
Alas, what’s to happen to all those people upon whom the bedbugs are feasting? Will Cimex and his bloodsuckers take over New York City? And can Cimex and Carly make it as a couple? A little sci-fi, a lot of slapstick absurdity and some laughs.
I did have the feeling that another look at the script, with some edits in mind, might be a good idea as I found myself drifting at times.
Gretchen Wylder plays a variety of roles and is a standout as the Diner Lady in Act 2. Other shout outs to Tracey Conyer Lee as the talking head, who appears in a TV box and as Consuela, along with Danny Bolero as Menachem and Dexter, and Barry Shafrin as Mason.
You’ll be scratching all the way home!
“Bedbugs!!!” extended through November 2nd at the ArcLight Theater, 152 West 71st Street, Manhattan; 866-811-4111, www.ovationtix.com.