Thursday, June 1, 2023

Shucked - Broadway

Shucked is a very funny musical with jokes and puns flying nonstop.  Book writer Robert Horn, who previously won a Tony Award for the Best Book of Tootsie, keeps the wisecracks and one-liners coming at a frenetic clip.  Veteran Director Jack O’Brien skillfully paces the shenanigans under Scenic Designer Scott Pask’s high ceiling barn structure.  Mr. O’Brien revs up the  toomfoolery just when you thought you could settle down in your seats.  Choreographer Sarah O’Gleby incorporates high-powered and whimsical numbers that blend in perfectly with the overall tone of the musical.  The dancing corncob number, inspired by The Radio City Rockettes, is a highlight of the show.


The show, narrated by the very humorous Grey Henson and Ashley D. Kelley, revolves around a huge problem in Cobb County, where corn is king and everything there revolves around the yellow kernels.  Corn stalks are withering and the area’s livelihood is becoming endangered.  One of the residents, Maizy (Caroline Innerbichler) takes it upon herself to bring back help, much to the chagrin of her fiance, and corn farmer, Beau (Andrew Durand).  Maizy ends up in Tampa, where she meets a con man, Gordy (John Behlmann), who convinces her he can solve the growing problem (there is an unscrupulous reason why).  They head back to Cobb County where her romance to Gordy is in question, new love affairs are blossoming and the question is will the corn be saved?  Will there be a happy ending?  Maybe two?


Shucked is such a hoot because of Robert Horn’s endless supply of “Dad jokes” mixed in with hilarious zingers.  The performers, primarily Kevin Cahoon as the character Peanut, magnify their jocular effect with deadpan deliveries.  The cast of the show is clearly having a good time together, which adds to the audience’s enjoyment.  Each of the three principle players - Caroline Innerbichler (Maizy), Andrew Durand (Beau), and John Behlmannave (Gordy) - have an assured comic touch and engaging stage presence.  Grey Henson and Ashley D. Kelley are quite amusing as the musical’s narrators, updating the audience with the storyline and occasionally taking part in the hijinks.  Kevin Cahoon, is an absolute gem.  More times than not, I would start laughing even before he delivered one of his bon mots.  The breakout star of the production is Alex Newell as Cousin Lulu.  They are the embodiment of female confidence and empowerment.  Their anthem, “Independently Owned,” brings the audience to its feet with thunderous applause.


The score by country artists Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally is a satisfying amalgam of heartfelt ballads - “Friends” and “Maybe Love” - comedic corn - “Travelin’ Song” - a great opening number - “Corn,” which triumphantly sets the stage for the type of show audiences soon experience and the aforementioned power anthem, “Independently Owned.”


Shucked, a laugh out loud musical comedy, at the Nederlander Theatre.


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