Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Theatre: Full House the Musical

When you sign up to watch a musical parody that is based on the schlocky 1980s family sitcom Full House and stars celebrity gossip monger Perez Hilton as super-dad Danny Tanner, you should not be expecting much in terms of sophisticated plot, dialogue or songs.  Full House, the Musical Parody lives down to these expectations but is still fun to watch as long as you don't hope for too much.

All the usual suspects are accounted for including widower Danny Tanner and his three daughters DJ, Stephanie and Michelle, although in this rendition, Michelle is winkingly named "MaryKay-And-Ashley" in reference to the now famous Olsen twins who played that role on the TV show.  There is also Uncle Jessie doing his best Greek Elvis impersonation, Jessie's love interest Rebecca Donaldson, as well as best friend Joey with his woodchuck puppet.  The actor playing Joey also takes on the role of DJ's wacky friend Kimmy Gibler as well as Comet the dog (while dressed in a big fluffy dog suit!).  The actress who plays Rebecca doubles as Stephanie's bad-girl friend Gia.

The start of the musical trots out all the familiar tropes of the TV show but exaggerates them to the nth degree.  Danny Tanner is fastidious and likes to clean, gets extremely depressed when the topic of his dead wife is brought up, and is known for his piano music serenaded "dad talks" that magically resolve any problems that his daughters are facing.  This family is also known for constantly hugging each other and this action is extended to the audience when several times in the show, the cast runs down to hug the people sitting in the front row and on the aisles.  In an interview, Perez Hilton referred to this area as the "hug zone", taking a page from the splatter zone of Evil Dead the Musical.   All the signature catchphrases are accounted for including "How Rude" by Stephanie,  "Aw nuts"  by Mary-Kate-And-Ashley (aka Michelle), "Have Mercy" by Jesse as he smooths down his slicked-back hair, and "Cut it out" by Joey.

In the opening musical number that introduces all the main characters in the house, the diminutive adult actress Marshall Louise, plays the role of MaryKate-And-Ashley as an infant in a baby carriage.  I marveled at how she was able to scrunch her body into this contraption that displayed her face but hid her body and wondered how uncomfortable it must be.  Luckily by the second song, she was on her feet and now portraying a precocious eight-year-old child.

As the show progresses, more and more problems arise that even the "dad talks" cannot solve.  Interestingly, the musical takes the real-life issues of the former cast members of the TV show and assigns them to the corresponding characters.  Accordingly, DJ develops anorexia just like actress Candace Cameron, Stephanie mirrors Jodie Sweeton's drug issues and a reference is made to Jesse's DUI charge, just like original portrayer John Stamos.  Disillusioned by the lack of effectiveness of his family talks, Danny Tanner has a breakdown and morphs into a version of foul-mouthed stand-up comic Bob Saget.

The second act of the play distorts the story lines from a couple popular episodes of the TV show.  First the family plans to take a trip to Disneyland but end up instead in Bismalland.  Then taking the plot from the TV show's final episode, MaryKate-And-Ashley falls off her horse and loses her memory.  In her altered state, she transitions into the grownup version of the Olsen twins, decked out in long wavy tresses, boho-styled baggy clothing, and dark sunglasses.  Actress Marshall Louise absolutely nails the impression of a cocaine-snorting bitch with slouched posture and spaced-out drawl.

This parody is full of profanity, lewd references and groan-inducing jokes, as it lampoons the TV show, its characters and plots, and the actors who played the roles.  That it is actually a musical is purely incidental since the songs are totally forgettable.  It definitely helps if you are familiar with the original show, so that you can appreciate all the references and how they are spoofed.  This show is not for everyone, but for true Full House fans who accept what it tries to offer, it can be an entertaining experience.

At the end of the show, after the curtain call, the cast stayed on stage and Perez Hilton informed the audience that it was the birthday of actress Amanda Nicolas who plays DJ.  He asked us all to sing Happy Birthday to her and send them photos and videos.  The souvenirs on sale were appropriately low-brow for this show, including underwear briefs with the various catchphrases embossed on them. In this electronic age, it was interesting to note that there were no hardcopy show programs available for distribution.  Instead, you could download one by scanning a QR Code or accessing a URL.  This modern cost-cutting idea may become a new trend for the future?

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