Bill and Ted, best known for excellent adventures and bogus journeys, return in stage-musical form to conquer evil and restore peace through rock & roll. Meagan Piccochi’s inspired vision of a pair of grown-up dudes balancing righteousness, fame and family overflows with playful charm. Because she stocks the stage with powerful songwriting and joyful talent—two full bands are onstage for a good portion of the show—Piccochi avoids the trap of merely referencing the cult movies but preserves their essential goofiness.
There are two villains in Wyld Stallyns, which is probably one too many. Bill (Lauren Tillman), Ted (Joseph White) and co. must battle rivals Creeping Rusty Meat, whose music and stage show are authentically unsettling; they must also win over a metal-averse Congress. Though Tillman’s voice strays at times into Broadway territory, he and White are both appealing headbangers. As their wives, Amanda Costner and Victoria June have slight parts, but Costner’s fierce drumming is the heat that keeps the whole hot-air balloon aloft. The requisite historical figures are pitted against each other in a riotous two-century fight scene marred only by a pointless death; a few slow sequences here and there don’t stop the momentum. The movies’ original duo has been talking about making a new sequel for years—they would do well to snap up this one.