THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF BRIDESMAIDS

UMPO at Rockwell does it again, taking a contemporary movie favorite and giving it Unauthorized Musical Parody treatment in a cabaret setting, and like UMPOs before it, The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of [the 2011 romcom smash] Bridesmaids proves a comedy-and-song-packed treat.

Natalie Lander (Mean Gurl Gretchen Wieners in the most recent UMPO spoof) takes over for Bridesmaids co-writer/star Kristin Wiig as Annie, whose lifelong bfo Lillian (Molly Stilliens stepping into Maya Rudolph’s heels) has invited her to serve as maid-of-honor at her upcoming nuptials and thereby placed her in completion with the bride-to-be’s wealthy new bestie Helen (Aynsley Bubbico in the Rose Byrne role) for Lillian’s affection and attention.

From Annie’s all-positions-imaginable sex scene with boyfriend Ted (Michael Thomas Grant taking over for the movie’s unbilled Jon Hamm), performed to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” (choice lyric: ““I wanna fuck you like an animal”), to Annie’s attempt to scale Ted’s gate only to find it opening while she’s atop it, to Annie and Lillian’s pissing-contest engagement party toasts (¿Dónde está la azul biblioteca la cerveza la cabeza adios amigos de nada?), writer Kate Pazakis manages to include just about every iconic Bridesmaids moment, and we still haven’t met teddy bear cop Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd in the movie and Nathan Moore at Rockwell).

Add to this an eclectic bunch of Top-40 hits including Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” Spandau Ballet’s “True,” Pink’s “Get The Party Started” and “Fuckin’ Perfect,” Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper,” and The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” performed by an octet of TV/stage favorites with pop-star pipes and you’ve got as much music as you’ve got laughs, and there are plenty of those too.

Self-aware cast intros prove particular delights. Desi Dennis-Dylan’s Megan reminds us that “After this film, I [Melissa McCarthy] will become the highest paid woman in film.” Nohely Quiroz as “voluptuous, tired, burned-out housewife” Rita is “not really memorable in the film” but the actress she’s taking over for did star in Reno 911. Ashley Argota’s Becca was originally played by “Kimmy Schmidt, from The Office.” In other words, they’re all “really famous now.”

Along the way, audiences are treated to one Pazakis gem after another. People are always telling Helen she’s beautiful, but “as Lady Ga once said, ‘I was born this way.’”) A visit to the priciest and most exclusive bridal shop in town reveals the Ivanka Trump line to be “80% off.” As for the movie’s indelible poop-and-vomit fest, well as Helen puts it, “what happened over the next thirty minutes left a brown stain on my psyche.” (Cue the Oscar-winning “Let It Go” and the most hilarious sound effects I’ve heard all year.)

Oh, and if you’re a Princess Bride, The Wedding Singer, or My Best Friend’s Wedding fan, you’ll relish UMPO Bridesmaids’ nods to all three.

Co-directors Marissa Jaret Winoker and Christopher Youngsman not only utilize ever inch of Rockwell Table & Stage with imagination and flair (e.g., the back of a booth serves as Ted’s gate and those seated there as his neighbors), their ingenuity extends to a giant chocolate chip cookie swimming-pool float, a Fight Club sequence gone wild, and some clever “green screen” effects.

Under Gregory Nabours’ expert musical direction (and with his four-piece band providing Rockwell-tastic backup), the UMPO Bridesmaids cast show off The Voice-meets-America’s Got Talent vocals throughout, with Stilliens playing a mean flute to boot.

Lander is a nonstop delight as Annie, and like the equally terrific Argota, Bubbico, Dennis-Dylan, Quiroz, and Stilliens, manages to put her own take on a character already made famous on the silver or home video screen.

As for the men, Grant is not only a tall, sexy, self-involved drink of water as Ted, he’s a hoot and a holler as Flight Attendant “Stove,” bridal shop owner Whitney, and a Pwincess Bwide pwiest, and Moore couldn’t make for a more winning Rhodes (in addition to doubling as “I’m not an air marshal” Jon).

Katherine Tokarz earns top marks for her bubbly, high-energy choreography, Quiroz for her power-punchy fight choreography, stage manager Chadd Michael McMillan for his clever costumes and props, Carla Linton for her flashy lighting, and technical director David Evans for his topnotch sound design (and all those burps and farts).

Kier Kirkegaard is the Ted/Rhodes alternate. Andi Davis, Samantha Dunn, Hollie Lee, and Brittany Hope LeNoir are understudies.

As with UMPOs past, you don’t have to have seen the source material to enjoy the show, but Netflixing Bridesmaids if you somehow managed to miss it in theaters or simply to refresh your memory will more than double your fun.

I did just that and ate up every scrumptious minute of The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of Bridesmaids, one of UMPO’s very best.

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Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont, Los Angeles. Through September 17. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00. Sundays at 12:00 noon. Reservations: 323 669-1550
www.rockwell-la.com

–Steven Stanley
August 12, 2017

 

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