“I’ll work till I can work no more. To win the woman I adore. At last I’ll have a love to call my own. And in case I wasn’t clear it’s Sharon Stone,” sings Wally, the young hero of Cloned! to a poster of his muse, from Basic Instinct, in her iconic white outfit, with her legs crossed. That she later, actually appears, as a character in the show, is one of the many over-the-top developments in this hilarious musical fantasy.
Set in New York City in 1993, young, good-natured, genius physicist Wally’s experiments in teleportation, first run amok when his pet pigeon (named after Stone’s Basic Instinct character) is cloned instead of being transported. As in Avenue Q, a puppeteer who obviously manipulates a puppet for comic effect portrays the bird. Testing the device on himself also results in cloning, yielding a harsher double of Wally, a la The Nutty Professor and The Mask.
A number of other zany characters are also caught up in the ensuing convoluted crises, including, Stoner roommate Fizz, whose bong is integral the plot; Izzy (Isadora), his comely, bespectacled colleague and assistant; Evelyn, his aged senile neighbor; Mr. Choi, his fiery Korean landlord; and kindly Dr. Marshall, his elder mentor.
The book by Jacey Powers and Dan Wolpow cleverly captures the tone of 1970’s Saturday superhero morning cartoons, the campy 1960’s Batman television series, and the 1960’s Broadway musical, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman. They’ve made the show a goofy hybrid of children and adult’s entertainment.
“Me and My Clone” is one of a number of lively songs from the bouncy score. Composer, orchestrator and additional book writer Adam Spiegel, and lyricist Dan Wolpow’s efforts winningly recalls Cy Coleman shows such as Barnum and City of Angels.
Tom Wojtunik’s very fine direction expertly balances the visual aspects, the narrative, and characters, grounding everything in a hyper-reality. A hilariously sensual extended tango-like dance between Sharon Stone and Mr. Choi is a grand highlight of Ryan Kasprzak’s marvelous choreography.
Performer Tony Romero is in a race to steal the show. As villainous Mr. Choi, the cranky Korean landlord also working for North Korea, he employs an accent out of central casting and is delightfully broad at every opportunity. Gray-haired John Alban Coughlan portrays the duplicitous Dr. Marshall with the expected hyperbolic mannerisms of a stolid scientific mentor, combined with the flamboyant posturing of Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. His eye-rolling, facial expressions and emotional eruptions are priceless. In appearance, vocally and in temperament, Crystal Kellogg initially causes one to wonder, “Is that really Sharon Stone?” Blonde, lean and fierce, she creates a tremendous illusion with her terrifically believable performance.
Boyish, wide-eyed Alex Goley charmingly captures all of the sympathetic geekiness of Wally. As his clone double, Eric Mann amazingly manages to replicate Mr. Goley physically and vocally. Melanie Beck is the perfect lovestruck sidekick as Izzy. Matthew Knowland wonderfully conveys the loopy charm of pothead Fizz, channeling the laidback brio of Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Babs Winn makes the most of elderly Evelyn and other surprising roles with her madcap presence. David Andino’s comical facial and vocal talents add much impact to his expert puppetry as the pet pigeon and it’s clone.
The highly enjoyable silliness of Cloned! is further enhanced by the witty low-tech props and scenic design including the bare bones transporter.
Cloned! (July 7 – 19th 2014)
The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Wucka Productions
Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42 Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit http://www.OvationTix.com
Running time: two hours and 30 minutes with one intermission