Stupidly clever, relentlessly hilarious. This is the kind of joyful “feel good” musical we need so sorely right now! Shucked follows Maizy (Caroline Innerbichler) and Beau (Andrew Durand), young lovebirds who live in the isolated rural Cobb County, a place whose main product is (you guessed it) corn. When the crop dries up, our heroes are forced to postpone their wedding. Maizy resolves to find a solution to the blight, and heads to (of all places) Tampa. In that bustling metropolis she meets shyster Gordy Jackson (John Behlmann), who claims he can solve the problem, but clearly has ulterior motives.
Innerbichler, Durand and Behlmann anchor the show with rock-sold performances, but the most dazzling moments come from supporting roles. Alex Newell plays whiskey distiller Lulu with lots of brass and bluster, and their roof-raising belting in “Independently Owned” truly stops the show, getting the song its own spontaneous standing ovation.
Above all it’s Kevin Cahoon as corn-fed philosopher Peanut. It’s a big help that super-witty bookwriter Robert Horn gives Peanut the most absurdly funny lines in the show, but it’s Cahoon’s crack timing that turns funny into uproarious. The primary goal of Shucked is pure fun; that’s not to say it doesn’t have earnest thoughts on its mind, but no comedy can really succeed with out some serious themes at their heart.
The unfailingly tuneful score by Clark and McAnally seamlessly blends country grit with Broadway splash. Choreographer Sarah O’Gleby works some real magic with things such as barrels, and of course ears of corn. Director Jack O’Brien pulls everything together with the sure hand of a veteran professional. Highly recommended.
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For more more about Jonathan Warman’s directing works, see jonathanwarman.wordpress.com.