Gigantic: Theater review by Adam Feldman
The musical Gigantic, about teens at a Biggest Loser–style summer diet facility, has been bouncing around for years. As Fat Camp, it played the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2009 and Off Broadway in 2012; now the Vineyard Theatre is mounting it at Theatre Row, and the show seems exhausted from its previous runs. The opening number sets things up well, as camp proprietors (Burke Moses) and Sandy (the gifted Leslie Kritzer) welcome a small group of big kids, including rebellious Robert (Max Wilcox), sincere Taylor (Ryann Redmond), sassy-slutty Daphne (bust-out singer Bonnie Milligan) and geeky-Jewish Anshel (an adorably awkward Jared Loftin). But the writing devolves into cliché and contrivance; in the second act, it largely abandons coherence.
An amalgam of Hairspray, Grease, Glee, But I’m a Cheerleader and just about every teen-themed movie of the 1980s, Gigantic has a lot going on. Mean kids—skinny villain Brent (Andrew Durand), his weird sister (Katie Ladner) and a group of cheerleaders (led by a lively Taylor Louderman)—torment our hefty heroes. There’s a skunk, there’s a color war, there’s an orgy of candy, there’s a musical version of The Crucible. But Gigantic seems to use the fact that it’s a musical as an excuse not to have to make sense, culminating in one of the most bizarre floppo numbers I’ve ever seen, in which Kritzer's Sandy—in drag as a bearded male hermit—imitates Michael Jackson while backed by a chorus line of decrepit, human-sized zombie forest critters. It’s up there in the jaw-dropper pantheon with In My Life and Dance of the Vampires, but it's unforgettable, at least, which can’t be said of the rest of this musical, in which the huge talent onstage is mostly wasted.—Adam Feldman
Acorn Theatre (Off Broadway). Book by Randy Blair and Tim Drucker. Music by Matthew roi Berger. Lyrics by Blair. Directed by Scott Schwartz. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 15mins. One intermission.
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