Jersey Shoresical: A Frickin' Rock Opera
nytheatre.com review by Garry Schrader
August 23, 2011
How on earth do you make a parody of Jersey Shore, an entity that seems already so aware of its own absurdity? I would argue that the creators of Jersey Shoresical haven’t really tried. Instead we have a musical review (there is no dialogue to speak of) that gives a quick survey of all the favorite moments and tropes of the MTV show that is, depending on the size of your superego, the consummate Guilty Pleasure or the whimpering end of a once-proud civilization.
Although the songs are not titled in the program, savvy audiences will be able to name them before they even enter the theater: “Gorilla Juicehead,” of course, sung by Snooki (holding a pickle); “Grenade” (a witty and helpful program glossary explains to the uninitiated: “a female that is considered less than desirable by males”); and “DTF” (“Down to F**k”—sung by Mike “the Situation”—to himself). As in the series itself, the ridiculously tumultuous relationship between Sammi and Ronnie gets a lot of play, highlighted by Sammi’s lament “(I’m Just a) Bitch in a Bed,” and Ronnie’s post-breakup “I’ll Be Fine,” which he manfully completes though his weeping has made the lyrics incomprehensible.
The real Jersey Shore gang appear to be well-rounded hedonists: They seem equally avid about food, clubbing, tanning, clothes, working out, and sex. Here the emphasis is on the last, and the lyrics are agreeably crude: to wit, “get offa me / You taste like herpes.” The book, music, and lyrics are by Daniel Franzese and Hanna Lopatin, who also play Ronnie and Sammi. The strategy of the lyricists often seems to be to see how far a rhyme can stretch: “sewer / whoo-re / do her” in one example, and most wittily, if I heard correctly (the keyboards were a little too loud on opening day), defying expectations by rhyming “wipe that smirk off” with… “the Situation.”
All the actors are game and likeable; some hit closer to the mark than others. An uncredited drag queen makes an appropriately raunchy “grenade.” The direction by Drew Droege keeps things moving amiably. If FringeNYC gives a decent cut of the sold-out houses to the company, they should invest in some new costumes: none of the real Jersey-Shoreians would be caught dead in most of these clothes (though some special pieces by MARCOMARCO are appealing).
I could go on, but why? You already know if you want to see Jersey Shoresical, and if you want to see it, you should. Chances are you’ll have a great time.