Mother Eve's Secret Garden of Sensual Sisterhood
nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
August 19, 2012
The last time I laughed this hard at a musical it was during a preview for some new show called The Book of Mormon.
Flat-out one of the funniest bits of nonsense playing in New York City (with just enough heart to get by), Mother Eve's Secret Garden of Sensual Sisterhood is a terrific send-up of self-help gurus, con artistry, secret sisterhoods and overblown musical theater. With a sparkling cast of comediennes with some great voices to boot (and featuring actual choreography!) and a winning attitude to match, Mother Eve's is a pure joy to watch and laugh alongside. If this doesn't turn out to be a hit of FringeNYC, something's wrong.
Originally conceived as a webisode sketch series, the writer/creators of Mother's Eve and director Erica Jensen) have patched together the scenes that introduce our heroines to the titular character of Mother Eve (a delicious Ashley Wren Collins). Eve's handing out pamphlets in the park promising to reconnect the overstressed women of NYC to their feminine goddesses through a series of self-help group sessions. She refers to each of her pupils by a different flower name, calls them her petals, and in grand flim-flam fashion is inventing her entire curriculum on the fly. In the midst of telling them to love themselves "divinely, and with gusto," she recruits an out-of-work actor whom she names Practice Guy (Kirk McGee, who is comedic gold) to role-play with each girl. Our musical accompaniment is slickly covered in the form of Guitar Boy (Christian Pederson), who gently strums alongside all the characters as they ridiculously burst into fits of songs.
Sure, the plot's as thin as tissue paper and is predictable as a Three's Company episode, but the lyrics—some of them would make the novelty music act Tenacious D blush with their lewdness, which is about as high a compliment as I can issue. "The Dishes Song," ostensibly a worn-out Cosmopolitan cliché of housework = sex, is so humorously vulgar that it blows right by the actual topic. "Unleash Your Inner Skank" is in praise of slutty outfits as a reclamation of women's rights, and is so over-the-top that one can't help but chuckle. "Pity Party" may actually be a Tenacious D b-side. "Sweet Cinnamon Bun" has a completely unprintable chorus, and is probably the catchiest song of the night. If in order to have a hit musical you need a song you can hum on your way out of the theater, that's the song. Hum it though.
The cast is phenomenal, kudos to Jensen for putting the team together and moving them around the space well. The gut-bustingly funny team of Pederson (music) and Uma Incrocci (lyrics; she also plays the uptight petal Snapdragon) have something special working. Danielle Montezinos nearly steals the show as potty-mouthed sex-starved single girl Bird of Paradise. Brittany Bradford is a ray of profanity-laced sunshine as the high-school senior Echinacea. But the comedy glue that holds the whole thing together are the team of Collins (who also choreographed) and McGee, who hold the whole musical on their shoulders. They make it seem like they could juggle on a unicycle while doing it—all-star work by them and the rest of the ensemble.
I cannot imagine that this will be the last chance for folks to go and see —, but just in case no industry folks figure out how funny this is, get down to the Players Theater while you still can. And, might I add, "divinely and with gusto!"