It’s the perfect musical for all those who wonder how all of the people in the worlds of musicals always know the complicated song-and-dance numbers that make up musicals! The newest musical from Team Starkid takes inspiration from sci-fi films and musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors as a meteor featuring an alien intelligence known only as the Apotheosis – an intelligence that makes all who encounter it break out into song-and-dance. It’s a whole lot of fun and I quite enjoyed it.
Paul (Jon Matteson) is an average guy. He likes movies, and pizza, and average guy things. He does not like… musicals. But Paul’s small world is about to come crashing down under the weight of unspeakable terror! Now he must run, run for his life, as something sinister spreads, and grows, and sings, and dances! The town of Hatchetfield is plunged into a musical hell in… ‘The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals!’
‘The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals’ is a musical horror-comedy by StarKid Productions. It was funded through Kickstarter and had its premiere run in Los Angeles, CA in October, 2018. It features a book by Nick & Matt Lang, and music & lyrics by Jeff Blim.
The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals isn’t one of Starkid’s best musicals but it’s not one of their worst, either. If I had to place it on a list, it’d probably be in the upper half of their musicals. It’s very good and very enjoyable. The only part that I didn’t really love was some of the songs. The soundtrack is a bit of a mixed bag. Much of it is fun, but some of the songs just don’t land for me. That’s mainly down to Jeff Blim’s songwriting style, I think, as I had similar issues with Trail to Oregon, the other Starkid musical that he wrote the music for. It sometimes seems like the melody of the lyrics he writes doesn’t always match the melody of the music he’s written, and so the songs don’t quite mesh together as well as you’d want them to. They’re catchy enough and the lyrics are well written, it’s just that the melodies don’t line up quite right and it proves to be very distracting for me. That disjointed nature kind of works for a show like this as the whole premise is that these people have been infected by an alien intelligence that is making them sing and dance, so you could plausibly say that the reason the lyrics and music don’t always line up is down to the fact that these people are infected by aliens. But, as this is a musical, it is kind of important for the music to fire on all cylinders. There are a few songs that stand above the rest, namely “Show Stoppin Number”, “Not Your Seed”, and “Join Us (And Die)”. Those three songs are just excellent and allow each of the soloists a brilliant chance to shine. None of the rest of the songs are bad or anything, it’s just that some work better than others.
That being said, the rest of the show really, really works. The script (written by Nick and Matt Lang) is fantastic. There are so many references to musicals within it and the characters are all immediately identifiable, distinct, and engaging that it’s hard not to get sucked into this world. Every musical fan knows someone like Paul who just hates musicals and loves to shit on people who like them. On the flip side, every person who’s like Paul knows a bunch of people who are obsessed with musicals and can’t shut up about them. Even though I don’t agree with Paul’s point-of-view (as I love musicals), he is immediately sympathetic and watching his terror rise to the surface as he realizes what this apocalypse is causing is a genuine delight to behold. The show plays out like most alien-invasion stories, which is fine as the script is clearly a send-up of those kinds of stories. The ending owes a lot to shows like Little Shop of Horrors for reasons that are utterly apparent when you watch it. The jokes are as funny as you’d expect a Starkid show to be and the pacing is pretty superb. From a writing standpoint, this show is great.
It’s also really great from an acting and design standpoint! The Starkid shows always feature some pretty stellar acting and The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is no exception! As always, Lauren Lopez is brilliant; here, she plays Emma – a barista who, like Paul, isn’t particularly interested in musicals – and she excels as the female lead. Her songs are great and her comedic timing is even better. Robert Manion is hilarious as Professor Hidgens – one of Emma’s teachers – and his big musical number, “Show Stoppin Number”, is the highlight of the show. Joey Richter, Jeff Blim, and Corey Dorris all give reliably solid performances, as always, each bringing their own brand of humor to their roles. Jaime Lyn Beatty is gut-wrenchingly hilarious as Charlotte and it’s always nice when she’s given a song where she can really stretch her pipes out. Newcomers Mariah Rose Faith and Jon Matteson are both superb. Mariah plays a series of smaller roles, but she makes a pretty big splash with them and has some killer vocals. As mentioned earlier, Jon is great as Paul, the lead of the story. He doesn’t sing for most of the show, but when he does, it’s worth the wait. He has some great comedic timing and he plays the role so straight that it’s just so dang funny. The set design, by Corey Lubowich, is minimalistic but perfectly suited for the material and, when combined with Sarah Petty’s light design, works remarkably well. It’s visually interesting and gets the job done. June Saito’s costumes are, predictably, wonderful and all of these elements really come together to make this show look and sound really good.
All in all, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is another great musical from Starkid Productions. It’s a loving pastiche of b-sci-fi movies and features a massively talented cast delivering well-written and clever dialogue. Nick Lang’s directing, combined with the acting and the design elements, help ground this fantastical musical in some semblance of reality. Jon Matteson’s grounded performance brings the audience right into the story as we are forced to imagine how we’d deal with an apocalypse that causes us all to sing and dance. While I’m not a huge fan of the score, it does its job and does feature some nice, catchy songs. On the whole, it’s a great way to spend two hours of time. It’s funny, emotional, and well-made. It’s another hit from Team Starkid and I’m glad to see them still making great stuff!
4 out of 5 wands