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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
A Very Brady Musical
Brady bunch, say hello to the Schwartz squad!
Sherwood Schwartz, who created The Brady Bunch (as well as that other cult favorite, Gilligan's Island) was on hand at Theatre West in Hollywood on June 6th to watch his son, his son's wife, his daughter, his daughter's husband, and his grandson celebrate the Bradys in a brand new medium: an over-the-top theatrical adventure called A Very Brady Musical. Sherwood is serving as Executive Producer. Son Lloyd J. Schwartz and his sister, Hope Juber, wrote the play, which Lloyd is directing, and Hope and her husband Laurence Juber wrote the music and lyrics. Lloyd's wife, Barbara Mallory, plays the Mom, Carol Brady (the part immortalized by Florence Henderson on TV). Barbara is also the Associate Producer. And Elliot Kevin Schwartz, their son, plays the oldest Brady sibling, Greg.
The rest of the Bradys aren't Schwartzes, though. John Cygan plays the dad, Mike Brady, and the rest of the "bunch" consists of Justin Meloni as Peter, Adam Conger as Bobby, Erin Holt as Marcia, Laura Marion as Jan, and Kelly Stables as Cindy. And rounding out the household is Kathy Garrick as Alice, housekeeper and major solver of problems.
As might be expected, it's a super-silly plot, which everyone overplays to the hilt with overwrought sighs and rolling eyes. A major theme is that Mom and Dad, married for three years, apparently haven't been able to have any sex because they can't ever steal a moment alone. Which prompts Mom to vamp her way through a delightfully explicit song, "Euphemisms" with such lyrics as "You be my pickle, I'll be your jar. . ."
Another theme is expressed in Alice's song, "My Special Recipe," in which she encourages the Brady kids with the lyrics, "A cup of confidence, a sprinkle of hope, a dash of experience will help you to cope." What the kids are trying to cope with is an overheard play reading by their parents. The play is called I Hate Your Guts! and the scene the kids have overheard leads them to believe that their parents are on the verge of divorce. So, to acquire enough money to send their parents to a marriage counselor, the kids embark on a series of money-making schemes that land all six of them in jail.
The various plotlines, are merely vehicles upon which to hang the songs, and the songs are sweet and funny and satisfying. Unexpected rhymes, singable melodies, and a few exceptionally fine voices. Plus snappy choreography created by Paul Denniston, especially in the introductory song, "Groovy Happy Sunshiny Day." It's also fun to hear the Brady Bunch theme song again and to join the cast in singing it at the curtain call.
In addition to the family members, the cast includes characters who appear in the various subplots. Roger Cruz plays a gypsy hippie, a bank robber, the volunteer for Peter's magic act, and a hilarious Mexican-accented judge. Mary Garripoli is bouncy as Trixie and Mrs. Fananigan. Matthew Hoffman plays a bank robber, an undercover cop, and a marshal. And Selah Victor is a sexy Destiny, a bursting Bubbles, and an authoritative police officer.
All this action takes place on a nearly empty stage. But set designers Daniel Keough and Joseph Altadonna have constructed a large panel that opens, unfolds, or rotates to become an inside wall and staircase of the Brady house, the town's Main Street, with all its colorful shops, a Swap Meet, where the parents, Carol and Mike, first met, and an Escort Service, which is featured in one of the subplots.
A Very Brady Musical is a loving tribute to a very specific time in our collective history. In 40 years the original TV show has spanned the generations, each of which has recognized it as the cult classic it has become. So come and enjoy the musical. And bring your kids. And grandkids.