Comedic gifts of 'Ruthless' cast make satirical musical sparkle
Ambition runs spectacularly and humorously amok in "Ruthless! The Musical."
This small gem of a satirical musical about the consuming drive for stardom is filling the Cabaret at Theater Square with a hilarious and lively staging.
Director Van Kaplan, choreographer Keisha Lalama and a cast of six keep the pace brisk and the comedy delightfully broad as they skewer the overdriven ambitions and sly maneuvers of actors, directors, producers and theater critics.
At the center of the story is practically perfect third-grader Tina Denmark, who turns homicidal when she's passed over for the title role in her school's production of "Pippi in Tahiti" and cast in a minor role as Pippi's dog, Puddles.
But that's just the beginning.
Turns out that everyone — from Tina's teacher, who wrote "Pippi in Tahiti," to Tina's grandmother, a theater critic who hates musicals — has suppressed dreams and dark secrets.
Eventually, all is revealed through a series of highly dramatic but reasonably plausible plot twists and dramatic revelations. The proceedings are further enlivened by sly satirical references to plays such as "The Bad Seed," "Gypsy" and the movie "All About Eve," which will amuse theater buffs without mystifying the uninitiated.
The cast is first-rate, beginning with Allison Joyce, who plays Tina with a comedic sense that's delightfully polished for someone whose day job is being a fifth-grade pupil at Avonworth Elementary School. She has a spot-on ability to know when to deliver a line straight and when to role her eyes for satiric effect. She and Marlana Dunn, who plays Tina's mother Judy, partner well in their mother-and-daughter roles, as well as the satire of the song "Kisses and Hugs."
Dunn comes into her own in the second act, when a series of revelations bring glamour and other major changes to her life.
From his first entrance, the dynamic Jonathan Visser triumphs as Tina's glitzy, take-charge manager Sylvia St. Croix.
Kara Mikula, as theater critic and Judy's adoptive mother Lita Encore, raises the comedy bar with her solo "I Hate Musicals."
Kristiann Menotiades shows comedic and acting range in double-duty roles as Tina's nerdy teacher, Myrna Thorn, whose frustrated show-biz ambitions led her to write "Pippi in Tahiti," and sneaky reporter Emily Block.
Courtney Bassett injects fun into her roles in the first half as Louise Lerman and in the second half as Judy's ambition-driven assistant, Eve.
Coming in at just under two hours with one 15 minute intermission, "Ruthless! The Musical!" should be a hit with theater buffs and those looking for over-the-top laughs.Additional Information:
'Ruthless! The Musical'
Produced by: CLO Cabaret
When: Through May 6 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, with some extra dates
Where: Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown
Details: 412-456-6666 or www.CLOCabaret.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- McIntyre students hope Buddy Bench is beneficial to all
- Robert Morris drops to 0-5 after overtime loss to New Mexico St.
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Southmoreland wrestling team takes old-school approach
- Pittsburgh man charged with 56 counts after high-speed chase over weekend
- Burrell school officials update education goals
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Sewickley Academy’s Jackson O’Neill, USC’s Emma Hasco
- Bad exhaust fan caused ‘massive’ carbon monoxide leak in Duquesne retirement home, officials say
- Sounds of Christmas coming to Fay-West region
- Cheswick super fan, 90, has had season tickets for almost 70 years