SHOW TITLE: The OzFather
PRODUCER: Locally Grown Theatre
HAILING FROM: Cottage Grove
SHOW DESCRIPTION: In this movie mashup parody the Wizard of Oz is the Godfather while Johnny Cash can’t find courage to sing and a Newsie doesn’t have brains to write while helping Dottie get home from the land of MinneappleOz.
“So what am I seeing?” I asked, approaching the box office.
I paused. “Ah. I’m guessing that that would be a cross between The Wizard of Oz and The Godfather?”
Which, y’know, danger, danger, Will Robinson. I know The Wizard of Oz fairly well, but The Godfather is one of those cultural touchstones that I – cringe – have never actually seen from beginning to end. I’m familiar with the premise and its tropes, but there was a real danger that I’d be batting zero for fifty percent of the jokes.
This didn’t turn out to be a problem – the references were all over the place, leaning heavily on Minneapolis history, which I know enough of to nod in recognition when they appear.
Beyond that, wow, was this a mixed bag. The production values were notable, with original music and multimedia underscoring the elaborate transitions. The cast was – all over the place; a few with a spark of inspiration, others whose performances were clumsy and stiff (as well as the most placid dog that I have ever seen on a stage). In a sprawling cast of this size (about twenty, I think, which can not have been fun to manage with Fringe restrictions) this was a noticeable, and distracting, issue.
The underlying problem, however, is the script. Much of it was clever. But being clever isn’t the same thing as being funny, and making a reference isn’t the same thing as writing a joke. And watching a writer free-associate pop-culture references…isn’t really comedy, as such.
The show clocked in at about forty minutes, and still felt as though its thin premise was being padded. It’s never pleasurable to be unable to respond to this level of enthusiasm, but I would reluctantly have to advise giving this one a miss.
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