Factory Theater at Prop Thtr. Book by Mike Beyer and Kirk Pynchon. Music and lyrics by Laura McKenzie. Additional lyrics by Pynchon. Directed by Matthew Gunnels. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
How you respond to the Factory Theater’s Hey! Dancin’! Hey! Musical!—a comedy that squished its toes deep into the wet sand of its pop-culture target in 2010 as a straight play, and now returns with genre-tinged musical reinforcement—will likely hinge on your relative proximity to the radio-ready era of the show’s target demo.
Theoretically, the range should encompass older viewers who embraced Don Cornelius in the Chicago era of Soul Train all the way through to the Gen X partiers of Club MTV. But Mike Beyer and Kirk Pynchon’s narrative—which was already gloriously stupid before they invited Casiotone-savant Laura McKenzie to infuse it with ’80s-esque pop tunes—focuses pretty narrowly on the mid-’80s, when dance-rock-pop from the likes of Prince and Culture Club were fending off the inroads being made by cock-rockers like Bon Jovi.
Pynchon, Beyer, McKenzie and new director Matthew Gunnels manage the precarious preposterousness quite well. McKenzie’s new numbers, mostly composed for appropriately shoddy prerecorded synth, are luscious for aficionados of the era, even if Factory’s cast isn’t always up the vocal task. But then that’s not really what these comedians are here for. The likes of Grant Drager as cable-access host Randy Massingill, Mary-Margaret Roberts and Amanda Roeder as a pair of dance-show aspirants and Scott Sawa as a nerdy Prince Charming in waiting win us over despite shaky voices. And Eunice Woods, as a female worshiper of Prince, and Nathaniel Niemi, as the guy who’s too ambiguously gay for the era, milk their supporting roles for about ten times what they should be worth.