10349890_772640996109973_1776277370838341591_n Little did the creators of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic realize when the animated TV series first aired in 2010 that in addition to its target demographic (little girls), “unicorn pony” Twilight Sparkle and her fellow equine friends would soon become the object of obsession of a whole new group of fans—the grown men we now call “bronies,” i.e. bros who love ponies.

Composer Joe Green and book-&-lyrics writers Heidi Powers and Tom Moore, the folks you brought you last year’s Real Housekeepers Of Studio City, go that Hollywood Fringe Festival favorite one better with the full-length, song-packed, plot-driven musical delight they call Bronies: The Musical, directed with verve by Ryan Bergmann and choreographed with flair by assistant director Joseph Corella-Sandler.

Bronies: The Musical focuses on three bronies in particular: bullied high school nerd Tyler (Mark Gelsomini), his basketball jock nemesis Austin (Matthew Herrmann), and 20something school janitor Jacob (Jeffrey Christopher Todd).

Not only does our heroes’ love for ponies bring about the most unlikely of friendships, romance blooms for each—Tyler with girl brony Paige (Sarah Watkins), Austin with cheerleader Madison (Natalie Lander), and Jacob with blue-haired DJ Keith (Joey Acuna).

Along the way, the sextet, their parents (Gabby Sanalitro as Tyler’s mom and Kurt Koehler as Jacob’s high school principal dad), Austin’s teammates (Acuna and Chris Dorman), and Madison’s fellow cheerleaders (Sanalitro and Heather Lake) learn the meaning of acceptance from 35-year-old brony master Hank (Greene) and above all from a quartet of “Little Ponies”: Madison Dewberry, Leigh Golden, Jacqueline Grace Lopez, and Cindy Sciacca, pony puppets in hand and Dreamgirls-gowned to match.

Bronies’ delightful book celebrates diversity as its dozen-and-a-half tuneful songs advance plot and make points that could easily turn Bronies: The Musical into a high school, LTBT, and theater-in-general hit.

Production kudos go to first and foremost to Bronies’ director and choreographer, and to its all-around fabulous cast of L.A.-based triple-threats, with additional snaps to music director Ryan O’Connell, accompanist Duncan Kirk Bowman, lighting designer Brandon Baruch, costume designer Kirk Stefferud, and stage manager Rebecca Eisenberg.

I’d love to stay and talk some more about Bronies: The Musical, but hey, I’ve gotta skedaddle. I have a youtube date with My Little Pony.

–Steven Stanley
June 22, 2014
Photo: Roger Fojas Photography