This weekend my parents gave Molly and I their tickets for a performance at Des Moines’ Temple of Performing Arts. When I found out what performance we were going to see I did a little research to see what we were getting into as neither one of us had been to the Temple before. As I did my research it took only 2 words to know I would enjoy it: ”Improvised Musical”. Being a fan of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” I knew Molly would enjoy it too and I continued my research to see what we should expect.
The first part of “Broadway’s Next H!t Musical” is an award show where each of the four actors make up a song from a made-up musical. The entire song is improvised, from the pianist to the lyrics to the actions. Once all four actors have performed their song the audience votes on their favorite. The winner gets the coveted Phony Award and the opportunity to perform the entire musical that their improvised song came from.
In order to have a good improvisational experience everything has to be as random as possible. To achieve that objective the audience was involved. Before entering the theater we were greeted by little slips of paper where we could come up with a possible song title that would be selected for the actors to use. Knowing this ahead of time allowed me to come up with something that would be entertaining to see. I ended up submitting “The Ballad of Horatio the Pool Boy”.
The first actor came on and was given the title “The First Time I Touched Her Butt.” He created a musical based on a Doo-wop group who breaks up because of an alleged affair between a member and another member’s wife. It was my 2nd favorite of the evening.
The second actor was given the title “Why Mac and Cheese Are Best Friends”. She created a country musical based on a farm family who helped feed the community but was being foreclosed on. Mac and Cheese turned out to be her twin sons. It wasn’t very good but she was also dealt a tough hand in my opinion.
The fourth actor (you’ll see why I skipped one) was given “I Just Lost My Earring” for his song. He created an action/adventure and included some dance choreography from an audience member. Somehow a magical earring needed to be found on a magical island in order for him to return home. It was the audience’s 2nd favorite but my 3rd.
That leaves us with my favorite of the evening. The third actor picked her song and took a minute to read it. Once she figured out what it was she couldn’t help but laugh, and as she read it the entire audience busted out laughing. Indeed she chose “The Ballad of Horatio The Pool Boy”. This musical was about a famous actress and her love, and loss, of her pool boy Horatio. It was so well done that the audience chose this musical as the winner of the Phony Award! As the song’s composer I was given an award myself.
After a short intermission the performers put on a great show based off the song. The story went along nicely and showed the rise and fall and rise again of the actress as Horatio appeared to become a distraction to her work, according to her movie’s director. It came to be more of a distraction after he left her life. When he came back she was back to normal and her acting work was better than ever.
Broadway’s Next H!t Musical was a great time. Luckily the actors were given some good material to work with. I have no doubt in my mind that at least two of the other options would have been just as funny had they been selected as the winner. It truly is on the audience to make the performance enjoyable; the more creative the song titles the better the show will be. I highly recommend taking this show in if you have a chance (it’s in Des Moines through May 12).