Billy (Charles Johnson) is just like you. You have a J.D., an M.D. or a PhD in Political Science; Billy has a PhD in Horribleness. You hunger for a position with those powerful K Street lobbyists or that white-shoe law firm; Billy longs to join the Evil League of Evil. You have someone who you admire at the pinnacle of your profession; Billy has Bad Horse (briefly, Clay Comer wearing the head of a horse). Like you, Billy desires to take over the world. Also, you pant after that hot person at the Laundromat (Stefanie Garcia); so does Billy. You have a moronic wingman; Billy has the sweat-spewing Moist (Matt Baughman). You have an arch-nemesis, who gets all the things you want, and so does Billy. His is named Captain Hammer (Comer). Finally, you have a nom de plume (check out the comments section in this website, or any other). So does Billy: Dr. Horrible.
And so, armed with ambition and optimism, and his freeze ray, and his death ray, Billy strides out into the crepuscular night, determined to defeat his muscular arch-nemesis (who occasionally will throw cars at him, and also give him painful wedgies), win the affections of his Lady (he is working up the nerve to speak to her) and earn his position with the Evil League of Evil. It is much the same way with you, Young American Striver, which is why you faithfully followed the YouTube sensation, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, written by Buffy the Fearless Vampire Slayer author Joss Whedon and a bunch of his relatives, and featuring Neil Patrick Harris, who used to be Doogie Howser. And that’s why you’ll be seeing Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by Landless Theatre.
The script which Landless follows is relentlessly faithful to the 2008 YouTube version (see below), leavened with a musical “commentary” written, more or less, in the style of an after-show talk-back, if all the participants had dropped acid just before starting.
The chorus – Hannah Jane Ginsberg, Anna Jackson, and Richard Westerkamp, all of whom double as Bad Horse’s minions – takes center stage, and they are fabulous. Director Andrew Baughman shows up and does a fantastic rap (done by Zack Whedon himself in the YouTube version), accompanied by little brother Matt (when Matt Baughman hears Whedon’s co-producers were two of his brothers and a sister-in-law, he stalks off muttering about nepotism.) Music Director Mickey D. DaGuiso steps away from his piano and leads a show-stopping number about how tough it is for an Asian to get a decent part on television. (DaGuiso’s performance at Landless on opening night made it impossible for him to personally receive his WATCH Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.)
The music is beautiful but difficult, and this is not the best-sung Landless song I’ve ever seen. You might be surprised to hear how underpowered Garcia’s vocals seem, considering the star turn she did as the femme fatale in Landless’ High Fidelity. However, after watching the YouTube videos I conclude that she may have been trying to match Felecia Day, who plays the same character there that Garcia plays here. If so, I submit that this is a director’s mistake; Garcia has a better voice than Day, and I would have been glad to hear it.
Of course, many in the audience were in fine voice (this is a sing-along, remember), with pitch-perfect memories of the YouTube experience. Regrettably, they were not credited in the program so I cannot give you their names.
On the other hand, Karissa Swanigan’s choreography was…well, it was amazing. Listen, folks, it’s time to add Swanigan to the list when we talk about the Tsikurishvillis, the Hines, the Brunings and the other great choreographers who work in the DC area. What Swanigan accomplishes in the teeny, tiny DCAC space is particularly astonishing considering that she had an eleven-actor cast (not counting Director Baughman) on stage. The dancers nonetheless look free and uninhibited, as though they aren’t aware that with one false move their foot would be in the mouth of some surprised first-row Whedonphile. But, of course, there were no false moves. There never are when Swanigan choreographs.
So, all you ambitious boys and girls, all you who long to join the Evil League of Evil and simultaneously win the heart of that cute individual at the Laundromat, I recommend that you come to Landless to see how your life will end up – or, if you already know, show up and sing along.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
By Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Zack Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed by Andrew Lloyd Baughman
Produced by Landless Theatre Company
Reviewed by Tim Treanor
1 hr, 10 minutes without intermission
Note to Dr. Horrible fans around the country:
According to Landless Theatre, the Whedons announced Monday they will no longer be licensing this show. So this could be your only chance to see it live and sing along.
Not a Whedon-head yet? Catch up with the rest of the audience by watching the 6 part series here, starting with Act 1, Part 1.
Don . WeLoveDC