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Emojiland: The Musical

The dynamic Lesli Margherita is part of a lively cast including Ann Harada as Pile of Poo in this drawn out brassy musical comedy where laughs are scarce. 

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The full cast of  “Emojiland: The Musical” at The Duke on 42nd Street (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

Smiling Faces, Skull, Princess, Pile of Poo and other notable emojis cavorting around might have made for a peppy contained sophisticated children’s show. The creators of Emojiland: The Musical however, have opted for a full-length treatment that sputters out by intermission as not much has happened and then we come back for more anemic hijinks. The meager plot involves a software update, a firewall, a virus, betrayals and some romantic complications all taking place in a smartphone fantasyland.

‘CAUSE IT’S JUST SO GREAT TO BE ALIVE, OH

PEACE, THUMBS UP, POUND, OKAY, HIGH FIVE, OH

WE’RE ALL CONNECTED IN EMOJILAND

BY MORE THAN HYPHENS OR AN AMPERSAND, OH

PEACE, THUMBS UP, POUND, OKAY, HIGH FIVE, OH

IT’S JUST SO GREAT TO BE ALIVE

Keith Harrison and Laura Schein’s jocular book doesn’t sustain interest over the time involved. The same-sex relationship between Police Officer and Construction Worker does display some topical cleverness. Mr. Harrison and Schein’s weak score is mostly one mediocre character song after another characterized by their rudimentary lyrics and derivative music that recalls the melodies of Alanis Morissette and Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be.”

Decked out in skimpy attire and at one point sliding down a pole, dynamic stage veteran Lesli Margherita brings her customary flamboyant verve to the role of Princess. Transcending the patchy material, Ms. Margherita marvelously carries on as if she’s starring in a revival of Once Upon a Mattress. Making the most of her second act cameo as Pile of Poo is the always delightful Ann Harada wearing a brown hoop dress. Ms. Harada performs her would-be Kander & Ebb-type showstopper with welcome pizzazz.

Lesli Margherita, Max Crumm and Josh Lamon in a scene from “Emojiland: The Musical” at The Duke on 42nd Street (Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel)

HEY! CAN YOU SMELL ME?

WAIT, DON’T TELL ME, I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY,

AND I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO EVERY WORD.
DJ, TURN THE VOLUME TO MAXIMUM,
AIN’T GOT TIME TO RELAXIMUM

GRAB SOME SNACKSIMUM AND PLAY THAT ALTO

SAXIMUM.

The rest of the game cast, a number of whom are ubiquitous on New York City stages is comprised of Josh Lamon, Felicia Boswell,  Lucas Steele, Natalie Weiss,  Max Crumm, Jacob Dickey, Dwelvan David, Heather Makalani, Tanisha Moore, Jordan Fife Hunt, George Abud and Ms. Schein. All of them gleefully embrace their cartoonish roles with vibrant characterizations.

Director Thomas Caruso’s fluid physical staging achieves as much briskness and buoyancy as possible. Kenny Ingram’s limp choreography never rises above the simplistic. Scenic designer David Goldstein’s configurations of small cubes and screens is artfully appropriate, showcasing Lisa Renkel and POSSIBLE’s crisp projection designs. Jamie Roderick’s lighting design is suitably kinetic. Though colorful, Vanessa Leuck’s costume designs are of Halloween store caliber but her makeup designs are accomplished and are complemented by Bobbie Zlotnik’s fine wig and hair designs. Of dubious note is Ken Goodwin’s muddy sound design which obscures a number of the lyrics.

Amidst Emojiland: The Musical’s flatness there are bright spots but not enough of them.   

Emojiland: The Musical (through March 12. 2020)

Arborhouse Productions & Visceral Entertainment

The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 West 42nd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 646-223-3010 or visit http://www.emojiland.com

Running time: two hours and 20 minutes including one intermission

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Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (728 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

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