It’s a musical. About musicals. It’s “The Musical of Musicals: (The Musical!).”
The Zodiac Players will stage the production at Shoals Theatre in downtown Florence beginning today. The curtain opens at 7:30 p.m.
“The Musical of Musicals” is an homage to American and British musicals that premiered Off Broadway in 2003.
It’s not just one musical, but five; each with a similar plot but done in the style of a different famed composer.
“This show is very much for musical lovers,” Frances Cohenour, an actor in “The Musical of Musicals” said. “Because when you read through it you can see all kinds of different musicals and lots of partial quotes from other musicals.”
The production pays homage to the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Kander and Fred Ebb in addition to references to many other musicals.
“There are a couple of direct quotes,” said Alan Flowers, the show’s director. “Especially with lyrics. And the music is so close that it would take someone who knew the score to know that it was not the same. It’s fascinating that they even got away with it.”
Flowers mentioned a line in the musical that says, “this is close enough, but not close enough to sue.”
The music, Flowers said, “is cleverly enough written so that the audience thinks they’re hearing something they’ve heard before.”
Mack Cornwell, an actor in “The Musical of Musicals,” said he was worried, not being a huge fan of musical theater, that most of the references would go over his head.
“That’s not the case; you don’t have to be like Mr. Flowers, who knows musical theater really well to still be able to enjoy the play and think it’s funny,” Cornwell said.
Another actor in the musical, Randy Pettus, said the music ties everything together in a cohesive way.
“You go from the fields of Oklahoma — except it’s Kansas — to the opera house with a phantom, and then to Berlin for the cabaret,” Pettus said. “And all stops in between.”
The original play calls for four actors who appear in each of the five plays, Cornwell said. The nature and demands of community theater, however, made them go a different route with more actors splitting the different parts.
“But those were done with professional actors who didn’t have jobs or go to school,” Flowers said. “So we’re doing it with 15 people.”
It will be hard to catch all the references in one go, Flowers said.
“It’s very fast; it’s bang, bang, bang,” Flowers said, adding there is now scenery or outfits with the exception of some solid black boxes that are moved around.
“There is no way you can get it all the first time,” Flowers said.
To which Pettus replied, “You’ll catch on the second time what you don’t get on the first.”
“But the third time is when it’s really good,” Cornwell added, laughing.
Shoals Theatre is at 123 N. Seminary St., in Florence. The production begins at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for students, and available at shoalstheatre.com or by calling 256-764-1700. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults and $10 for students.
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.