By Tom D’Angora, Taylor Crousore, and Scott Richard Foster
Directed by Michael and Tom D'Angora
Off Broadway, Musical
Runs through 6.29.19
Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street
by Shani R. Friedman on 5.15.19
Emily McNamara, Taylor Crousore and Scott Richard Foster in A Musical About Star Wars. Photo by Project Publicity.
BOTTOM LINE: For Star Wars fans (because it’s definitely better than Star Trek) who liked the music in the cantina scene and need a fix until the next movie is out.
In a borough far, far away, two movie buffs—teenage Taylor (Taylor Crousore) and 20-something Scott (Scott Richard Foster)—had a fateful meeting in a Staten Island Blockbuster in the late 1990s, where they bonded over their adoration of Star Wars. Now, years later, they're putting on a show about their epic love for the franchise at Comic Con, or Con-adjacent, at least. They’ve added some professional gloss with the casting of Emily (Emily McNamara), a graduate of AMDA (the American Musical and Dramatic Academy). But unbeknownst to Taylor and Scott, Emily—who is not just an actor but an “actorvist”—has other ideas. She’s there to stop these “misogynistic men and their oppressive portrayals of women!” She wants Lucas and Co. called out and plans to wreck the production.
But first, song and dance numbers! There’s the opening, “Much, Much Better Than Star Trek!” The costumes hew to the looks from A New Hope: Taylor (aka Luke) sports a sparkly white shirt and gold satin pants, Scott (Darth) is all in black with some glitz in his cape, and Emily (Leia) is in a long, white sparkly dress with her hair in buns (obviously). There are many, increasingly detailed, costume changes, which happen whenever the actors hear the sound cue of someone screaming. As they next sing praise to Lucas, Scott and Taylor are dressed as Ewoks and Emily dons a bikini costume (less overtly pervy and revealing than the one Leia wore in Return of the Jedi) made by Taylor’s mom. When Emily admits her deception and announces she’s quitting (she has a one-woman show at La MaMa—“That’s Not Funny, That’s Offensive”), they tell her an Equity rule prevents her from leaving the show. But if they can’t convince her of the greatness of Star Wars, they will agree to shut down the show.
In their arsenal they have the infamous 1978 Holiday Special, a game show segment, more costume changes (I was seriously impressed by the AT-AT created by designers Brendan McCann and William Bailey), and a Hamilton-esque rap about the less popular Episodes I-III. They also have a little group therapy as Emily explains that the movies made her “feel so angry and left out”—while her brothers got Star Wars toys she had to play with Polly Pockets. Whereas for Scott, who was bullied by his brothers and felt out of place in his conservative household, Star Wars was “the first time I felt part of something.” And the fictional galaxy helped Taylor to overcome his crippling childhood social anxiety.
Do Scott and Taylor prevail? Does the show make it to Comic Con? The answers are less important than the good time you’ll have getting there. Crousore, Foster, and McNamara are all great performers and their joyful enthusiasm is evident. The story moves along at a pretty quick pace under the direction of Michael and Tom D’Angora, although I would have been okay with trimming the characters' backstories. And Billy Recce has crafted many winning songs. I especially liked the rap, which is the perfect way to enjoy the three prequels without having to actually watch them, although the song about Kenner toys seems like padding. McCann and Bailey do an outstanding job with costumes on what could not have been a very large budget, amazingly recreating a version of Han Solo frozen in carbonite that is just—wow! It was a packed theatre the night I went and the gleefulness of the crowd definitely enhanced the experience. May the fun be with you!
(A Musical About Star Wars plays at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, through June 29, 2019. The running time is 80 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:15. Tickets are $67.25 and available at telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200. For more information visit amusicalaboutstarwars.com.)
A Musical About Star Wars is by Tom D’Angora, Taylor Crousore, and Scott Richard Foster. Score and Lyrics by Billy Recce. Directed by Michael and Tom D'Angora. Costume Design by Brendan McCann and William Bailey. Choreography by Alex Ringler. Set Design by Brendan McCann. Lighting Design by Lindsay Green. Music Director is Ed Goldschneider. Stage Manager is Brent Michael Jones.
The cast is Taylor Crousore, Scott Richard Foster, and Emily McNamara. Understudies are Dylan Hartwell and Amy Hillner Larsen.