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R.R.R.E.D.

An attempt at a societal musical satire depicting hatred for redheads. The performers are terrific and there’s some fun songs but it’s overall tiresome.

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Matt Loehr and Katie Thompson in a scene from “R.R.R.E.D.” (Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

Spirited, tuneful and fabulously performed but lacking a strong plot, the silly R.R.R.E.D. might have made for a lively hour-long cabaret show. However, as a full-length musical, it’s a tiresome experience. The exuberant Hee Haw-style opening number has the two principal performers disguised as hillbillies in a garden.

The acronym title stands for “The Real Redheaded Revolutionary Evolutionary Defiance.” The conceit is that we’re at a covert location of this support group for redheads seeking solace from being vilified by society. We learn that redheads could become extinct by 2100 unless they increase their procreation. These concerns are explored in 85 minutes of songs and sketches that include tart barbs at blondes and brunettes.

Katie Thompson vigorously portrays the group’s stalwart leader Victoria O’Hara. Possessed of a winning stage presence, the magnetic Ms. Thompson’s belting and comic timing enrich her humorous and intense characterization.

Marissa Rosen in a scene from “R.R.R.E.D.” (Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

With a host of Broadway credits including The Book of Mormon, The Producers and Fosse, Matt Loehr’s seasoned skills as a triple threat of singer, dancer and actor are gloriously on display as Victoria’s unctuous though sympathetic assistant G.J. Crockett. The beaming and charismatic Mr. Loehr’s exquisite talents tremendously elevate the material and his wisecracking gay sidekick role. It is easy to imagine him as Harold Hill in The Music Man, Cornelius in Hello, Dolly! or the Cockney lead in Me and My Girl, all of which he has performed regionally. Loehr’s performance is a joy.

Kevin Zak as a loopy gay tycoon and Marissa Rosen as a daffy overeater provide solid support as other members of the group in their periodic appearances. Music director Rodney Bush is skillfully on keyboard and appears as “Honky Tonk” with deadpan charm, making an engaging foil during the antics.

The show boasts celebrity guest stars and at the performance under review, Lael Van Keuren from Broadway’s Finding Neverland and Sister Act was delightfully crabby as an anti-redhead.

The book by Adam Jackman, Thompson and Patrick Livingston is a meagre framework that doesn’t go very far narratively, and strives for hilarity but doesn’t achieve it. Thompson’s songs are an accomplished amalgam of pop, rock and show tunes that individually land but don’t cohere into a unified score.

Marissa Rosen, Katie Thompson, Matt Loehr and Kevin Zak in a scene from “R.R.R.E.D.” (Photo credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

Director Andy Sandberg’s staging is a polished minimalist affair. Choreographer Shea Sullivan offers some nice dance sequences. Dan Scully’s basic projection design complements the actions with simple imagery of titles and illustrative slides.

Charlie Corcoran’s scenic design ably represents a meeting room with visual flourishes. Lighting designer Jake DeGroot’s straight forward illumination contains neat smoky spotlight bits.  The steady sound design by David Sanderson proficiently realizes the score and effects. Black shirts and camouflage pants are the hallmarks of Michael McDonald’s fine costume design.

R.R.R.E.D is at best fitfully appealing and its superior performances aren’t enough to redeem it.

R.R.R.E.D. (through September 11, 2018)

DR2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 800-745-3000 or visit http://www.rrredthemusical.com

Running time: 85 minutes with no intermission

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Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (562 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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