The Sound Of Music’s wry and witty Max Detwiler and the music agent’s wealthy, sophisticated gal pal Elsa Schraeder at long last get their hilarious fifty-five minutes of fame at Hollywood Fringe in Mason Flink and Lindsay Kerns’ deliciously clever-&-campy Max And Elsa: No Music. No Children.
From the get-go, Clayton Ferris’s divine Max makes abundantly clear what gay men have been whispering behind his and the von Trapps’ backs for years. Max is one of us, and if he can’t have Georg (Frank Smith) for himself, at the very least he can see favorite fruit-fly Elsa (Megan Rose Greene) wed and bed Captain von T in his stead.
Taking as their point of departure Max and Elsa’s all-too-brief on-screen moments, Flink and Kerns have imagined the before-and-after of each of the duo’s scenes, the best chums’ mutual dislike of children, music, and Maria leading to some of the funniest lines you’ll hear between now and Fringe’s end—if not beyond. (For instance, don’t ever serve Maria olives. She says they “taste like sadness.”)
Though Maria and the seven von Trapp brats are nowhere to be seen, both seventeen-going-on-eighteen Rolf (6-footer Matthew Gilmore in German boy-shorts) and the Mother Abbess herself (Gilmore again, but in big-and-tall nun drag) make cameo appearances. (Max advises Rolf to find a community that understands and accepts him, prompting twinkle-toed Rolf to join the Nazis?!.)
Under Flink’s inspired direction, Farris, Greene, Smith, and Gilmore play it straight-ish (no pun intended), which makes their work all the funnier and more fabulous, with special snaps to Farris’s spot-on tribute to all those unsung ‘30s/‘40s Hollywood greats who knew how to play it “theatrical” back when nobody could actually be g-a-y.
Brandon Baruch’s lighting, Alysha Bermudez’s sound, Kerns’ set, Greene’s costumes, and stage manager Jean Ansolabehere’s props make the most of Fringe’s in-and-out requirements, with Flink’s whistle-along soundtrack a particular winner.
As with any under-an-hour Fringe show, Flink and Kerns may have to come up with an extended Max And Elsa for post-Fringe life. If they can do this, there will likely be no stopping these supporting characters-turned-stars.
June 22, 2015