The Great Daisy Theory
nytheatre.com review by Maura Kelley
January 23, 2011
The Great Daisy Theory, starring Susan Mosher and directed by Matt Lenz at the Laurie Beechman Theater, is a delightful, entertaining, and sometimes somber piece of theatre, packaged in an hour. It combines stories of Mosher's colorful life, from her childhood through her conquest of her lifelong dream of being on Broadway.
We learn early on about "the Great Daisy Theory," a concept from her mother on evolution. While Mosher's friends believed in heaven and puffy clouds, Mosher's mother believes that in the end we are reconstituted into other life forms—a goat, a daisy, etc.
Mosher, like mostly everyone in the audience, was hit hard by the musical theatre bug at eight years old. Her lightning-fast montage of the entire score of Jesus Christ Superstar, one of her childhood obsessions, is quite impressive, as she masters each character's voice and choreography.
Mosher is a loud, zany, and sometimes manic lady with strong comic chops that she uses well. Her rendition of "Cry Me a River" (Arthur Hamilton) in response to being jilted by a drummer during her stint as a jazz singer resonates to absolutely hysterical proportions. In that song, she demonstrates at least six different levels of emotion: torture, rage, revenge, desperation, mania, and insanity. Songs like "White Bird" (David & Linda LaFlamme) help to illustrate the part of her life while inspired by living with her hippie father on the beach. Her drug-induced haze and her love affair at 16 with an older female are quite revealing. Mosher's ultra joyous segment when her Broadway dream came true (Hairspray) is a very truthful and comical contrast to her life after the show closed.
The sadder, more intense elements deal with her relationship with her alcoholic mother, who never moved on from divorce. This is the theme that holds Mosher's show together. She does demonstrate one mother/daughter fight comically as she plays both roles in the form of an opera. Kudos to Ray Fellman, the musical director and constantly smiling accompanist, and John Boswell, Michael Orland, and Mark Hartman for help with the wide range of musical selections.
Because Mosher is not lacking in energy, I would have liked to see her at times sing more complete and banter-less, reflective songs, as a break from the high intensity thunderstorm. Overall, Susan Mosher in The Great Daisy Theory is a very open, funny lady with a colorful life. One cannot help having a great time with her throughout the entire show.