Aren’t we all just Bums?
This was my first experience with The Echo Theater and it was surprisingly good. The theater was homey and inviting. We found seats in the back to better see the production. The set was sparse, but the artwork (Set Design and Construction Randall McNair) made up for it. The view was gorgeous from where I sat. The cast was able to utilize the small space without it feeling cramped.
The play is set in the 1920’s before the big Stock Market crash. Edward Pibbles (Bridger Beal) is your typical paper pushing accountant who has become disillusioned with his current state of affairs. Beal showed the prowess of a professional, because when power went out temporarily, he kept singing. Edward works for Mister Engerman (Stephen Gashler (the show’s playwright)) and is facing the possibility of a promotion and a corner office. Weasel (Randall McNair) does the dirty work for Mister Engerman. Every show needs a villain and Weasel fits the bill. A chance meeting on the street with Dirty Dan, the King of the Bums, makes Edward question everything he has done so far in his life. Dirty Dan is played by Kenneth Brown and steals the show with his nonchalant way at looking at life. Should Edward become a Bum, or follow through the expected responsible path his family and girlfriend and parents have laid out for him?
Rhubarbara Thwackem (Caitlyn Lunceford) is the dutiful girlfriend, who has waited six years for Edward to propose. She finally gets her wish and they are planning their wedding. My favorite costume in the play was her pink dress (costumer Liesl Cope) she wears to dinner with her future in laws Pansy and Dirk Pibbles (Teresa Gashler and Steve Whitehead). Edward’s parents can’t wait try to impress their son’s fiance with the “fancy mustard”. Rhubarbara does not live up to her name. She is not stiff, unbendable or bitter. She wants what every girl wants: a husband, a house and babies! I could also identify with her when talking about her brothers ripping the heads off her dolls. I had many headless Barbies growing up.
The ensemble of Bums are a lovable bunch, lead by Dirty Dan. Mubble (Natalie Dilts), Chester (Drew Cannon) and Norm (Josh Whitehead) are delightful characters. They find pleasure in finding a half eaten hamburger, booze and dancing. The dance numbers by choreographer Bethany Taylor in the production were simplistic, but fit the space that they were allotted.
Vote for Mommy! Out to clean up the City is Beulah Brummel (Jennifer Mustoe). She wants to make homelessness a crime and has Edward arrested for loitering. She is followed by her Mini-me (Ariah Gashler) and her personal reporter (Jennifer Cannon). This is groundbreaking for the time period. Having a woman run for office and win would be unusual but not unheard of. Kudos to her for running and winning. The irony in the show, is she eventually becomes the exact thing she is fighting, a Bum. Rachel Summerhalder rounds out the cast as the policewoman and the very patient Judge. The whole cast is delightful as Bums. Kudos to Director Adam Cannon for getting his cast to be believable as “normal” people and also as bums.
The strengths of this show were the mostly believable New Yahk accents, the energy and movement and the fun story. The music, too, by Gashler, was fresh and fun. What I noticed that still needed to be tweaked was the electricity going off and the few little opening night glitches. Good voices (music director Teresa Gashler) abound in this cast. Many of the cast kept singing when the lights went out unexpectedly. The show was technically sound with a few mishaps. Something is always bound to happen on the first night of any production. The cast recovered brilliantly. You won’t be disappointed when you go see this production. Because this is a world premiere of a brand new show, I can’t stress enough my suggestion that you see this family-friendly fun show.
Bums! The Musical by Stephen Gashler
15 N 100 E, Provo, Utah 84606
Mon, Thurs, Fri Sat til October 3rd.
$12 Adults, $8 Students/Children/Seniors, $2 off/person for parties of 5 or more