Written and Directed By Bob and Tobly McSmith; Directed and Choreographed by Jason Wise
Produced by National Lampoon
Off Broadway, Musical Comedy
Runs through 11.29.15
Theatre 80, 80 St. Mark's Place
by Linda Buchwald on 10.10.14
Perez Hilton and cast members of Full House The Musical.
BOTTOM LINE: Full House the Musical! relies too much on shock humor and not enough on actual parody.
There's a song in the first act of Full House the Musical! A Tanner Family Parody! about how there are no gays in San Francisco. It's, as you might guess, all about the fact that the sitcom took place in a city famous for its gay population and yet a homosexual character never appeared in all eight seasons. This musical could have used a lot more funny observations about the show and a lot less humor based solely on the juxtaposition of wholesome characters saying naughty things. A little of that goes a long way. And two hours of repeated gags, like referring to Michelle Tanner as Mary Kate and Ashley, is about an hour and a half too long.
Bob and Tobly McSmith's writing credits include other exclamation point-titled parodies like Bayside! The Musical! and Showgirls! The Musical! This time they take on that '90s sitcom about a widower trying to raise his three daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and friend, taking a pretty straightforward story (though one that, as pointed out in the musical, is sad for a situational comedy) and turning it into an incoherent plot. It references storylines from actual episodes, such as middle child Stephanie (Marguerite Halcovage) making friends with bad influence Gia (Bridgett Russell Kennedy, doubling as John Duff's Jesse's love interest Rebecca Donaldson), but the scenes don't flow into the next, leading to an overall sense of chaos. And then things get really weird when Danny Tanner suddenly tells everyone to call him Bob Saget and trades in dad speeches for using crude language. In addition to not making much sense, Perez Hilton doesn't have the comedic chops to elevate the material.
There are some bright spots. Seth Blum, saddled with Full House's two most annoying characters, Joey Gladstone and Kimmy Gibbler, most effectively channels the original characters he is parodying and gets the most laughs. Set designer Bryan Hartlett makes the most of what is probably a limited budget with resourceful tricks like a photo turning into a top hat for a dance number. The house band, called Jesse and the Rippers, also deserve none of the blame.
If you like ill-advised puppet/teddy bear sex scenes and hugs from strangers, then you might want to check out this show. If you are looking to feel nostalgic about the '90s, you can always wait for Fuller House on Netflix.
(Full House The Musical! A Tanner Family Parody! plays at Theatre 80, 80 St. Mark's Place, through November 29, 2015. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8PM. Tickets are $25-$50 and are available at vendini.com.)