Perez Hilton Saves the Universe (Or At Least the Greater Los Angeles Area): The Musical
nytheatre.com review by Saviana Stanescu
August 13, 2008
A true delight, this musical: hilarious, wicked-smart, well-done, energetic, fresh, irreverent, arresting. I can't find words to describe how much I enjoyed it and I am not one of the college students filling a sold-out house at Bleecker Street Theatre for a late night show. First of all, the story is intelligent and funny, capturing a "regular" day in the life of celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. We see his assistant (portrayed by the excellent Dana Steingold) waking him up from a wet dream with a ball-gagged Zac Efron submitting to Perez's power. From that moment on, the show unfolds at fast pace, populated by celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, R. Kelly, the Olsen Twins, and especially the omnipresent Kathy Griffin, ready to steal a scene or a new piece of attention and fame.
That would be enough to have lots of fun with the wild lampoons, but the plot relies on a more interesting premise: two Jihad terrorists are around, planning to destroy Los Angeles and the rotten fame-worshipping godless world with a nuclear bomb to be planted, in a symbolic gesture, at Britney Spears's wake. Yes, Britney has died and the access door to the info on her funeral can be obtained only through Perez Hilton, who is actually looking for love on Internet cuz he's "lonely at the middle" as one hilarious song puts it. And the funny thing is that Kebab/Kevin, the terrorist assigned to extract the info from Perez, is lonely, too, as he can't be openly gay in Iraq—so he gladly takes the opportunity (read mission) presented to himself: to act gay and date a celebrity, go for dinner at Olive Garden and brush shoulders with Hollywood stars. It's of course "love" at first sight, when repressed star-crazed wannabe Kebab meets the famous yet vulnerable Perez Hilton. For both of them, it's heartbreakingly hard to "shoot him in his face," as another refrain has it.
I am not going to reveal all the surprises, but the Perez musical ride is definitely worth taking. We need more of this kind of bold smart unapologetic production in the mainstream and on Broadway, they teach audiences (and hopefully producers too) that being risk-taking and thought-provoking, pushing the envelope in a meaningful and entertaining way, makes for great theatre.
It's no surprise that the show feels so organically developed with the amazing ensemble when you notice that the writers of the book and lyrics are actually playing the leading roles: Randy Blair is wonderfully believable and likeable as the pink-wigged Perez, and the sexy terrorist is embodied by the gracious Timothy Michael Drucker. They are both members of The Other Baldwins, a NYC based sketch comedy troupe, which explains somehow the great scenic relationship between the two and the punchy one-liners.
Zach Redler's music uses pop and rock tunes in a brilliant mixture of melodic rhythms. The small orchestra led by Michael Larsen (piano/conductor) plays with a gusto that can be felt at all levels in this production, which is crisply directed and choreographed by Enrique Brown. Everybody on stage seems to be having so much fun with this show that it becomes contagious, the spectators are bound to join in the fun, to continuously click-click-click on that live "blog" with pages/scenes changing fast, with colorful costumes populating the space, with memorable lines penetrating your memory. It's a roller coaster of laughter, it would be a shame to miss it—in the FringeNYC Festival or (let's hope!) when it opens on Broadway.