NY Theater Review By Marcina Zaccaria
Cloned!, a comedy with a book by Jacey Powers and Dan Wolpow, is presented as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Not an intellectual journey, but rather a lighthearted story about cloning and science, there is something effortless in the comedy of the piece. It has music and additional story by Adam Spiegel. Lyrics are by Dan Wolpow.
Moments of the show are simply sublime. The show begins in Wally and Fizz’s NYC apartment. The opening scene is a great journey back into the Spring of 1993 with the look of grunge and the frustration of the Gen X characters onstage. The set was filled with sight gags. With entrances through windows and quick changes of set, Director Tom Wojtunik makes strides to keep the staging innovative and fun.
As the light-hearted frolic continues, we learn more about Wally’s quest with science, dealing with the possibilities of what a clone could be. In an effort to get to the science festival, Wally doubles his pet bird, Tramell, in a transporter. Puppeteer David Andino is adept, and there is something frivolous about Tramell’s doubling.
Later, Wally is doubled, proving that there is nothing wrong with “too much me.” The plot is witty, and there is something zany about the premise. The writers have also dreamed up some great musical theater situations. Wally, played by Alex Goley, and Clone Wally, played by Eric Mann, are impressive. As they acknowledge their two-ness, hilarity ensures. The second act bounces to a lavish bathroom in Los Angeles, when Wally’s girlfriend decides to be teleported to Sharon Stone’s bathroom. Hoping that Wally will acknowledge her true self, she implores him to express feelings toward her.
Dr. Marshall, played by John Alban Coughlan, is a great singer, bringing meaning to each cunning plot. In competition with his protégé, he learns more about the special teleportation device. Crystal Kellogg plays Sharon. She appears in a recognizable costume of Sharon Stone, a white dress from the movie, Basic Instinct. The Asian super is smart, with an excellent sense of musicality. He is a stand-out as a supporting player, always highlighting the humor of the play while introducing the new ideas.
Choreography by Ryan Kasprzak is basic, but executed with great emotion. Lighting design by David Goldstein is quite simple, sometimes bathing the characters in pastels. Amanda Shafran, the costume designer, gives flannel, quilted housecoats, and lab coats so that each character stands out. Jason Simms’s Scenic Design offers innovative great scenic pieces.
The producers do their best to make it an exciting journey. Some of the music is too simple, but Musical Director Julianne B. Merrill keeps a unified pace with the actors onstage. The performers were accompanied by a five piece off-stage band that includes keyboards, trumpet, reeds, and drums. Songs drive the action forward, and there are never dull moments.
It is a big vaudeville end at the International Particle Physics Symposium. It’s upbeat. Wally, the genius scientist, is in great form and proud to present his teleportation system. Singing and dancing as he shows it off to the world, the last number is a crowd pleaser that reminds the audience why we love musical theater.
The New York Musical Theatre Festival exists to revitalize musical theatre culture by discovering and promoting new musical theatre artists, producers, and projects. In its eleventh year, NYMF is the largest musical theatre event in America. For more information, please visit nymf.org.
Cloned! is playing at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Additional performances are on July 15th at 4:30pm and 8:30pm. There is also a performance on July 19th at 2:15pm.