Entertainment :: Theatre

The Beastly Bombing (NYMF)

by Ellen Wernecke
Contributor
Friday Oct 5, 2007
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Note to al-Qaeda and home grown militias both: Someone is making fun of you right now that - "someone" being the cast of the new musical The Beastly Bombing, by Julian Nitzberg and Roger Neill, now playing at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Luckily, The Beastly Bombing soars above mere mockery and its synthesized score to become a glorious, ridiculous show with a second act is even better than its first.

A pair of neo-Nazi militants (Aaron Matijasic and Jacob Sidney) come to New York City to execute a plan to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. They should have made reservations, because two Saudi Arabians (Andrew Ableson and Russell Steinberg) have made the visit to do the same thing. When the designated bomb-carriers get into a scuffle, the terrorists discover they have something in common (namely, hatred of the "Zionist Occupying Government" or ZOG) and become fast friends while hiding out in a Hasidic clothing store. Meanwhile, the President’s daughters (Heather Marie Marsden and Kate Gabrielle Feld) get nabbed in New York on a drug binge, and some other group blows up the Brooklyn Bridge, forcing the President (Jesse Merlin) to make some difficult choices.

The very idea of singing, dancing terrorists may strike audience members as both tasteless and humorless, but the Gilbert-and-Sullivanesque songs and dances drive this show past easy parody and give it a Brechtian tang, especially as Merlin’s befuddled president captures center stage to declaim about his greatness (I Am The Bravest President). There’s even a minuet with a perilously loinclothed Jesus (John Quale), and Merlin sells it even through potentially obvious Bush jokes. From the girls’ sickly-sweet defense With Drugs We Did Experiment to the pitch-perfect ballroom number People Who Love Like Us, the cast of The Beastly Bombing exhibits some of the strongest vocal and dance talent of the Festival. And what do we learn? Being angry full-time is hard, a point underlined by the soft-shoe The Sorrows of the Sensitive White Supremacist in which two terrorists lament that their contra-Zog activities never helped them get girls (or boys), and "when the dirty bomb irradiates your mom," well, at least you’ve been married by a pervy priest.

Through Oct. 7 at the Julia Miles Theatre
Part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival
Visit nymf.org

Ellen Wernecke’s work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and The Onion A.V. Club, and she comments on books regularly for WEBR’s "Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine." A Wisconsin native, she now lives in New York City.

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