By Michael Reubens,
New York .
Adapting Shakespeare’s plays into stage or film musical comedies has succeeded on Broadway, Hollywood and London ’s West End, so it’s no surprise that this latest incarnation shouldn’t be a hit. Twelth Night (Your Own Thing), Two Gentlemen of Verona, Cole Porter’s Kiss me, Kate (The Taming of the Shrew) and even a Rockabye Hamlet come to mind.
Described in the program as “a musical comedy gone wild” Desperate Measures at the New World Stages is wild, alright. In fact there’s never a dull moment as this musical farce proves. Adapted loosely from Measure for Measure, the tale is set “somewhere out West” in the 1800’s as we are introduced to a slow-talking poker faced Sheriff Martin Green (Peter Saide) replete with a southern drawl while the corrupt Governor Von Richterhenkenpflichtgetruber…yep – easy for me to say but far harder to pronounce or spell – as the German Governor and villain of the piece, (Nick Wyman), goes about his daily business of…well, monkey–business, while a novice nun, Sister Mary Jo aka Susanna, (Sarah Parnicky), prepares to take her vows while the Saloon floosey, Bella Rose, (Lauren Molina) goes about her “work” while entertaining the governor after hours and having had a liaison or two in the past with the local prisoner on death-row, Johnny Blood (Conor Ryan), who just happens to be the brother of Sister Mary jo…I kid you not!
If that’s not confusing enough and making your head spin even faster is the priest, Father Morse (Gary Marachek) whose hilarious drunk antics as he sleeps most of the time in the jail cell through last confession is priceless. The Sheriff trying hard to get the governor to stop the eleventh hour hanging with pleas of clemency is hysterical to watch.
To say the mind boggles is putting it mildly and to divulge any more of the “plot” would be a spoiler-alert to say the least. Suffice to say “All’s Well That Ends Well”- but that’s another Shakespeare play and another story! And love does conquer all.
This is a delight. A great ensemble piece, beautifully written by Peter Kellogg with music by David Friedman. Directed and choreographed by Bill Castellino. A shout-out to the on-stage musicians helmed by conductor David Hancock Turner.
If you enjoyed the tv series Soap and loved Mel Brooks films and plays or the British farce Noises Off , I urge you to run and buy a ticket to see this Measure.