CAPTAIN GRAVY’S WAVY NAVY
nytheatre.com review by J Grawemeyer
Captain Gravy’s Wavy Navy, a new musical, is the story of a
superhero captain with super-intelligence and Technicolor dream hair. He
is ably assisted by the Wavy Navy, a potpourri of comic characters
including a pigeon who thinks he is a parrot, a clam who is always
happy, and an ancient manatee who is basically Barry White. Also on
board are the Captain’s Mama, the bayou-dwelling Blues the Frog, and Mu
Pallu, the Captain’s arch-nemesis. Backing them is a well-choreographed
ensemble who morph into everything from fish in the sea to Mu’s minions.
Oh, and how could I forget Rayadar, the Captain’s lovely assistant—the
soul of an Indian princess who has more than navigating the River of
Life with the Captain on her mind.
August 15, 2003
CGWN’s songs are fun and catchy, strung together evenly by comical dialogue (credit co-creator/writers David Cooper and Jeff Katz). The set is non-existent, inviting the audience to imagine it through the use of well-designed props (by Kim Boriin, Carolyn Bakula, and George Collier), such as a blue sheet that represents the River of Life and a truly nasty-looking brown sheet that defines the Dirty Empire, Mu’s secret hideout. The costumes (uncredited) are top-notch in defining the characters for adults while wowing kids with bright colors. All in all, this hodgepodge musical is fun, but at times I was lost.
The show cannot decide whether it wants to be for children or a randy send-up for adults. Several jokes rely heavily on sexual humor, but most of them are, uh, literally toilet humor, which appeals mainly to children. The songs have a pop feel, which kids like; but they don’t explain anything, which parents would find useful. I was confused by the Wavy Navy themselves—their special powers, being happy for example, do not seem to assist the Captain in saving the world in any way. Only Rayadar seems to provide a real service to the Captain, and it’s not the one she would prefer. Mainly, I wanted to know why the Captain is named Gravy, how he formed the Wavy Navy and what it is exactly that they do. Also, why did the writers think it was a good idea to have Mama spank someone? Spanking has no place in a children’s musical (and there were children in the audience!).
Regardless of some inconsistency, CGWN is fun and funny. The cast is great and seem to really enjoy working together—a sign that they worked hard to get somewhere. Where?—FringeNYC, silly!