Attention Musical Writers: Urinetown is not a template. The first time we see a Musical which is all about subverting musical conventions, it’s cute. But it gets awfully old awfully quickly after that.
I Like Nuts is a – well, why don’t I just tell you what happens. Horatio Hornbeam (Nick Greek) is a fellow who likes nuts. He likes them a great deal. He is careful to say that he doesn’t love nuts, but let’s just say they’re way past the hand-holding stage. Anyway, he interviews for his dream job in a nut factory. But since he doesn’t have any actual, um, skills he doesn’t get it. Then the Nut Guru (Jeff Baker) appears to Horatio in a dream and tells him to go on a quest – to Norway. Horatio gathers with him the usual crew: a robot (Josh Drew), a vampire (Douglas A. Hary), a pirate/comedian (Yannick Morgan) and the Vice-President of Foreign Trade for the nut factory (Josh Drumwright). Together, they befriend and help Bob the Angry Squirrel (Greg Crowe) and his even angrier wife (Jennifer Speerstra).
In classic Musical design, the songs are a way to express thoughts and emotions which the characters cannot express in dialogue. In I Like Nuts, however, the songs express thoughts which have already been expressed, almost ad nauseum: “I Like Nuts”, “I Want to Work in a Nut Factory”, “Girls Don’t Want to Have Adventure”, “I Have to Get Angry”, “Everyone I Know is a Moron”, “Now I Can Show My Nuts” – well, maybe not that last one.
Actually, that Moron song might be a bit of Social Realism. Every character in this play is a one-note, one-dimensional moron, none more so than Horatio, who shows us what Forrest Gump would be like if he lost fifty points from his IQ. Director Chris Davenport has assembled a pretty talented cast but it is not well used. If actors give one-dimensional performances because he is being ironic, it is difficult to distinguish from when he gives a one-dimensional performance because he is being lousy.
Matters are not helped much by the fact that Mr. Greek appears not to have much of a singing voice – unless, of course, he is being ironic too. He has a small range, and within that range is mostly off-key. It appears to throw off the ensemble singing behind him, although some of them (in particular Mary Myers, who plays Horatio’s long-suffering wife) appear to have good voices.
All in all, this looks like a University graduation-party skit that got out of control. At ten minutes this would have been very funny; at twenty minutes it would have been good; at sixty minutes I was wondering what time the bar opened.
But – and this is a big but, or at least an important but – the audience was laughing. Not everybody is a hoity-toity theater guy, like me and, presumably, you. A lot of people were giggling at Bob the Angry Squirrel and the other bizarre denizens of Nutsoland. So it you know somebody who likes to get stupid and laugh, you could do worse than to steer him to this show.
- Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission.
- Tickets: I Like Nuts
- Remaining Shows: Sun, July 20 at 8:30 . Sat, July 26 at 4:30 . Sun, July 27 at noon
- Where: Studio Theatre Stage 4, 1501 14th Street, NW