On Sunday, August 21, 2011, I attended "The Legend of Julie-Taymor or The Musical That Killed Everybody," with a book and lyrics by Travis Ferguson and music and lyrics by Dave Ogrin, as part of the 2011 NYC International Fringe Festival. This is the second musical comedy to poke-fun at a certain web-slinging show currently on Broadway, however, this one goes the route of mocking a certain director and her original vision/creation. Whether the details in the show are accurate or not, I don't know, but everyone can identify with the hysterics that are presented before us, so even without seeing the show, I was still able to get the inside jokes.
One of the best parts about "The Legend of Julie-Taymor" was that Jennifer Barnhart, best known for puppeteering on PBS' "Sesame Street" and being in the Tony Award Winning Musical "Avenue Q," at least to my knowledge, has finally been cast in a leading lady role that she rightfully deserves! Jennifer CAN carry a show and HOLD her own as she demonstrated perfectly! Hitting all the right notes, Jennifer embodied her character "Julie Paymore." What made this role even greater for Jennifer is it really combined her grand acting skills with her superb puppetry skills which she gets to use on more than one occassion!
Assisting Jennifer in bringing this show to new heights were Barry Shafrin, Lynn Craig, Shaun Rice, Kiley L. McDonald, Johnnie Moore, Clint Carter, Michael Titone, and Christopher Davis Carlisle. Christopher Davis Carlisle was fantastic as "Lionel Weasel," a gossipy theatre columnist. Christopher not only had good acting skills, but a phenominally powerful singing voice. He really shined bright when on stage! Clint Carter also dazzled the audience as he played "Producer/Bruno/Inspector," but it was in his role as "Bruno" (the rock star who wrote the lyrics and music) where Clint really stood out! He has a great singing voice coupled with the acting skills to match. Also in fine form was Kiley L. McDonald who's golden voice was a pleasure to listen to! I wanted to hear more from her and wished she had a real featured solo. Lynn Craig also had a nice voice that I wanted to hear more of. Barry Shafrin was wonderful as "Billy," one of the many actors who get injured during this production. Barry's vocals are in good form and his two big moments came when his character "Billy" is gripping a pole for dear life, not wanting to fall from high above and during a scene where after his charcter is injured, he's giving an interview to the press, and Jennifer's character, "Julie" is controlling what "Billy" says by pretending he's a marionette. A stupendous idea by the creators of this show because it showcased Barry's talented acting skills as well as Jennifer's brillaint puppetry skills! The rest of the cast was enjoyable and well used in their roles.
"The Legend of Julie-Taymor" was a fun show to sit through for many reasons. The cast is one of the biggest reasons as is the fact that so many people can identify with this show because so much of what I saw in the show, felt as though it was ripped from the headlines (whether it was or not, I don't truly know).
It will be interesting to see if "The Legend of Julie-Taymor" swings into life after the Fringe Festival. Whether or not it does, at least Jennifer Barnhart was given a role to really showcase all of her talents that I have known she's had for years! Here's hoping Jennifer's name continues to be above the title in many more shows to come!