BYE, BYE BIG GUY
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
August 21, 2007
Into everyone's FringeNYC a little rain must fall; I got soaked tonight at Bye, Bye Big Guy, a schizophrenic and generally tasteless new musical by Michael Slade, David Evans, and Faye Greenberg.
It takes place at Rumpelstiltskin's memorial service, which is presided over by Snow White and Harold (the Frog Prince). Various other fairy tale/nursery rhyme characters turn up to pay tribute to Stiltskin, who was apparently a theatrical agent as well as a dwarf who could spin straw into gold. Almost all of them are interested in finding out whether "Rump" left them something in his will. Among those represented are the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, the Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the ballerina of "The Red Shoes," and Rump's seven older brothers, who turn out to be the Seven Dwarfs.
The conceit of the show is that all of these characters, like Stiltskin, have show business identities. Rapunzel is a bald lesbian singer (Sinead O'Connor?); the Blind Mice are R&B singers; the Mama Bear is, I think, Jessye Norman; a trio of Wolves are Rat Packers Davis, Martin, and Sinatra. I wasn't sure exactly how to map most of the other characters, possibly because I'm not as up-to-date on my celebrities as I could be.
Almost all of the characters get a musical number. Some of these are pastiches of musical styles, while others are outright parodies in the Forbidden Broadway mode: the Wolf Pack sing supposedly funny lyrics about devouring chihuahuas and being carnivores to songs like "Candy Man" and "New York, New York"; the Emperor (he of the New Clothes) inexplicably sings a medley of tunes from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Honest, that's how scattershot this thing is.
About halfway through, Rump's will is read by Snow White and revealed to contain a guess-my-name puzzle that I knew the answer to as soon as it was announced (so much for suspense). At the performance I attended, just before the denouement, the stage now cluttered with all six actors plus about a dozen foam board figures (à la Sunday in the Park with George), things completely broke down when Michael Gerrard's pants fell off and Carly Jibson cracked up—the one moment of spontaneous, genuine humor of the show.
Most of the rest of the humor, I should tell you, is of the borderline naughty/offensive/coarse variety. A lot of it has to do with how well-endowed dwarfs are.
It is, sadly, pretty much a train-wreck of a show, with Danielle Lee Greaves (as Snow White) and Jill Abramovitz (as the Miller's Daughter from the original Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, now an alcoholic ex-Queen) providing the only reasonably bright spots. (Orville Mendoza and Christopher Youngsman complete the cast; Youngsman disappointed me badly when, after one of Jibson's wigs fell off, he failed to deliver the hilarious off-the-cuff remark that might have at least partially salvaged the evening.) Devanand Janki is the director.