The Traveling Musicians
nytheatre.com review by Mary Beth Smith
February 22, 2012
The Traveling Musicians produced by 3 Sticks Theater Company follows the reunion tour of the band Rooster, Donkey, Cat and Dog. As the title suggests this show is loosely based on the Grimm’s Fairy Tale of the same name. Each animal tells their story of how they met up with the other members of the group. The story of the animals leaving their human owners for fear of their own individual livelihood and then meeting the other three animals stays true to the Grimm Brothers’ tale. After their initial meeting 3 Sticks Theater’s production diverges and creates their own original story about what happens to these four animals.
In the early days of Rooster, Donkey, Cat, and Dog (which happens to be the name of their band as well as their individual names), they were singing to survive on their own, playing local fairs and dives. Not a very good rock band, they struggle to “make it” until one day they discover that with a little confidence they are well beyond mediocre and verge on the edge of greatness. Once that day occurs the band is propelled into superstardom. From that moment forward we are taken through a journey of their rise and eventual fall as the animals look back on the moments that brought them to the point of a reunion tour.
While the premise of this show is somewhat intriguing the execution is nothing more than a rock concert with a little narrative. It seems that writer Andrew Lynch is more interested in making easy jokes with song lyrics such as “cock, ass, pussy, bitch” and “cock block, donkey punch, bitch slap, and pussy whip” than he is about the overall storytelling. The Traveling Musicians resembles a rock concert more than a musical, however Lynch does a nice job at sampling different genres of music ranging from pop, to edgy, to futuristic, to a Marvin Gaye type song about sugar. While most of the songs are fairly simplistic in their composition the audience is taken on a ride through the evolution of the band and their image by way of their music.
Regarding the actors, they work well together as an ensemble, but lack character development on an individual level. Except for Cat, rarely do we see actual animal work or movement from the actors beyond what their costumes and text provide. They are a decent group of singers, with the strongest by far being Dog who belts out her songs with a passion and commitment that stands above the rest.
Overall, if you are looking for a musical with great storytelling and music working equally together this show probably is not for you. However if you want to see a themed rock concert with original music this is your ticket.