We have all seen the reports here of the bedbug infestation that is plaguing NYC over these past few years. Now the scare was recently heightened even more with reports of these blood sucking nasty critters on the N and R subway lines. Jeezus – we can’t even ride the rails back and forth to work without feeling all itchy and creeped out. As if some of our fellow passengers don’t already make us feel that way! Now along comes this performance that I had the joy of attending this past weekend that makes me wonder if the “Bedbug Apocalypse” is almost upon us. Bedbugs!!! The Musical at the off-off Broadway venue Arclight Theater was a campy treat for the ears and the eyes. Yup, you can say I was bitten.
I just adore anything with a high campiness factor, and this musical scored big points with me as it bit in deeply at my affinity for 80s’ rock, horror movie schlock, and goofy over the top fun. The premise is that it’s a “girl meets bug sci -fi musical comedy”. WTF you say? Well, you have to experience it to believe it. Think back to the midnight showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a dash of Little Shop of Horrors thrown in, and then include diva pop candy such as Celine Dion, mixed in with an 80’s soaring stadium rock soundtrack and the Frankenstein born of this is Bedbugs!!! The Musical.
The storyline itself is totally nuts, and was written with a wink to all those B-movies that we saw growing up. It’s an endearing homage to 80’s glam and 90’s pop rock too. All this with a modern twist featuring current pop culture references and the bedbug news as of late feeding the frenzy. As the show goes it’s what transpires when a vengeance filled lonely exterminator, who is hell-bent on avenging her mother’s bedbug-related death when she was a child – comes up with a chemical concoction to wipe out all bedbugs from NYC. What follows of course is a disaster as the bugs are mutated into an army of large blood sucking human eating creatures who plot to take over the city, and then world domination! Insane plot? Yes. Somehow it all works splendidly. Who knew Celine Dion’s voice would also help save our city in the end? Who knew I would love this show? I did!
Well, not really Celine but an amazingly portrayed avatar of her played by Brian Charles Rooney as the singer Dionne Salon with a good soul who wants to help all the suffering people but is manipulated by her evil self serving husband/manager. Hmmm….this sounds familiar. Our exterminator with a bad case of revenge, Carly, is played by Grace McLean, who also ends up as Queen of the Bedbugs for awhile before coming back to reality after her brother is also killed off bedbug style. Sauntering around all of this is Lord Cimex, king of the bedbugs, played with glam god off his rocker Dr Frank-N-Furter bombastic flair by Chris Hall, who seduces the love starved Carly to be by his side as his romantic interest. He basically steals the show every time he is on stage along with Dionne Salon. Each one has amazing pipes and can really sing. From soft ballads, to rock anthems, to pop cheesiness, to grungy vocals I was blown away by the talent of the lead actors and actresses. In fact, the whole supporting cast can sing and act at a high level. This was not something I expected from a show this far off Broadway. Sensational music, marvelous singing, believable acting, and very funny at times. It’s like a crazy rock opera. Even though it all takes place on a small stage the way it’s presented makes it seem much larger than life. It was very easy to get sucked in and the show flies by leaving one wishing there was more. The cast works their butts off with energetic aplomb and really delivers. Kudos!
Fred Sauter, who wrote the book and lyrics, along with Paul Leschen. who composed the music, really nailed it here with the vision of what they wanted to showcase. The live band which is positioned on the upper right corner of the stage is outstanding. The costumes are inspired wackiness, especially those worn by Cimex, the bedbugs, and Dionne’s wardrobe creations. Wonderful job all around. I keep going back to the show’s website to listen to “Who Is The Bug Lady” which is Lord Cimex’ anthem starting off the second act. Cool tune. When will the full CD of the show’s music come out? I want a copy!
I have not had that much fun at any musical either on or off Broadway in a long time. We bumped into some friends that we had not seen in years who were also there that night. They confessed that this was their third time seeing it and still loved it. I have to admit that I really want to see this again, and since it’s run has been extended until November 2nd it will offer me ample time to get itchy and scratchy all over. Sleep tight, and don’t let the bedbugs bite! Better check under the mattress as Lord Cimex might be lurking. That would actually be pretty cool! Especially if I have my Rocky Horror pajamas on while watching some old B grade sci-fi flick on the tube. Ouch! What just bit me?
Bedbugs!!! The Musical – http://www.bedbugsmusical.com/
Arclight Theater – http://www.arclightnyc.com/