by Matthew Lord
OhLook Performing Arts Center
Director: Jill Blalock Lord
Musical Direction by James McQuillen
Choreography: Heather Shore and Pamela Langton
Set Design and Construction: Dinny McGuire and Matthew Lord
Costumes by Jill Blalock Lord and Taylor Wallis
Lighting and Sound: Grace Lord and Jill Blalock Lord
Keyboard: Kelly Rodriguez and James McQuillen
Based on an idea by Jill Blalock Lord and Taylor Wallis
Trannie: William Marshall Warren
Big Daddy Morebucks: Evan Spreen
Cooter: Matt Purvis
Ms. Rosie O'Mannigan: Samantha Padilla
Chad/Tina Turner: Michael McCray
Buster/Barbra Streisand: Jake McCready
Miss Cher: Stephanie Hall
Private Detective: Matthew Lord / Jeff Wells
Ensemble: Taylor Wallis, Mallorie Glowenke,
Heather Biddle, Lily Vaughn, Pamela Langton,
Heather Shore, Emma Lord
Reviewed Performance 2/25/2011
Reviewed by Clyde Berry, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
For the brief run it will have, Trannie will generate quite a lot of buzz. Already a brief blurb about it before it opened generated comments on social media sites and elsewhere online about the alleged insensitivity it has towards the Trans community.
Having seen the production, rest assured it is not meant to mock anyone in any community, only to lovingly skewer a classic piece of musical theater by taking it to a ridiculously slanted adult extreme.
It is the exact same thing going on at another theater with another set of popular female characters played in drag. If one is offensive, then they both are, but neither has the intent of anything other than being a bawdy night of fun. Also, as pointed out in the director's note, Trannie has a message of acceptance and finding one's place in the world, as one is, instead of trying to change someone.
Trannie is a song-by-song spoof of Annie in which the orphaned Trannie is searching for her parents, in this case a pair of gay men. The songs are the same, simply with new lyrics, and a few are even available for preview on Ohlook's Facebook page. "It's a Knocked Up Life", "STD", "Sleazy Street" and the updated "We'd Like to Thank You, George Bush, Jr." rework the familiar melodies with pop references and lots of crude jokes.
As a piece of satire, Trannie is pretty good. Daddy Morebuck's office is at The Manhole. The orphanage is replaced by Unplanned Parenthood and run by Ms. Rosie O'Mannigan. We've gone from the Great Depression into our recent recession. The storyline is clear but without any big surprises.
Any actor who has ever been in a musical sits backstage and eventually
rewrites the songs to fit the inside jokes the cast has. That is the case (and origin of sorts) for Trannie, however, some clever twists could be found in another draft of the script. For an R-rated late- show at the BYOB cult theater, they could take things a lot further. Tighten up the book scenes and lyrics and quit playing it safe. Move from funny to outrageous - there's a great deal more fun that could turn Trannie into Ohlook's own Rocky Horror (at least until the lawyers catch on).
In their newly renovated and air conditioned space, the semi-circular stage leaves plenty of downstage playing room. Curtains and projections are used in combination to create the various locales needed. Director Jill Blalock Lord uses the space well and keeps things moving for the sake of punch lines. Folks need to learn to wait for laughs, now that they know where they will be, some things were lost at the opening as the crowd was recovering from the first zinger.
Heather Shore and Pamela Langton's choreography is smart and funny.
"It's a Knocked Up Life" and "Prostitots" was a delightful sequence full of what Trannie should have more of in it. The Sweeney Todd tribute is hilarious, but that's all that can be said about it without spoilers.
Ohlook may not have the high budget, high end frills, but Jill Blalock Lord and Taylor Wallis' costumes deserve a special nod. They have folks switching costumes and genders constantly, without the benefit of layering or under-dressing.
The cast as a whole is energetic and commits to the needs of the script without any self consciousness or awkwardness. The singing is a bit uneven across the board, but everyone is loud and enthusiastic.
William Marshall Warren plays Trannie with the appropriate amounts of Pollyanna and Britney Spears. His tongue is firmly in cheek and he delivers his lines solidly.
Evan Spreen, as Big Daddy Morebucks, is the fastest thinker on his feet. Spreen commits fully to BDM physically and is one of the more zany characters in the show.
Samantha Padilla steals scenes as Ms. Rosie O'Mannigan. Her deadpan delivery of "Prostitots" at Unplanned Parenthood is on target.
Matt Purvis delights as Cooter. Purvis is clearly confident and hard working; all eyes go to him when a step is forgotten or a line is off. He's clearly having fun and it shows in his performance.
The ensemble gives it their all as well, with everyone trying to have their own bit and ad lib. With many crazy things to sing and outfits to wear, these actors have brought life to the background of the show.
While the script may still be a little rough, Trannie will find her way into the hearts of the late-night Ohlookers. The show will only tighten up over the course of the run, which is only for one more week. If you're looking for something different to try, Ohlook has something unique here.
TRANNIE-A New Musical Parody by Matthew Lord (World Premiere)
Ohlook's Black Box Theatre, 316 S. Barton St. Grapevine, TX 76051
Runs through March 12, 2011
Friday and Saturday Nights at 10:30pm
Rated R for content and language.
Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.ohlookperform.com or at the door. Seating is General Admission. For more information, visit website or call 817-421-2825.
A new parody based on the iconic musical "Annie" written by Matthew Lord (of the 3 Rednec