"The Complete Millennium Musical (Abridged)"
Reduced Shakespeare Company at the Kennedy Center
Through July 25
This newest installment of fluff and nonsense from the folks who brought us "The Complete History of America (Abridged)" features a number of twists. For starters, the cast of three certified goofballs sings.
"For singers, we're pretty good comedians," offers Reed Martin. He's joined by Austin Tichenor and Dee Ryan -- the first female member of the RSC, and Tichenor's wife. (Pictured above, from left, are Tichenor, Ryan and Martin.) The three of them had all had some spotty vocal training, having done musicals in summer stock productions, but when it came time to craft this song-and-dance effort, "our pipes were out of practice," Martin says.
So about a year ago they started taking singing lessons, and practicing every day -- for a while. Luckily, composer Nick Graham tailored the tunes to the actors' range ("about five to ten bucks," quips Martin). With a sultry song about the Inquisition called "Let 'em Swing" and an ode to the Industrial Revolution titled "Flush Your Troubles Away," you know it's not purely vocal power that carries the show.
"If they're coming for the singing," Martin says, "we're in trouble."
The truth is, however, they all sing pretty darn well, and they're funnier than ever. The expansion of their repertoire has come at a price, though.
"It's infinitely more complex than we thought it would be," Martin says of the musical format. "We're used to flying by the seat of our pants. But once the song has started we're committed to the tune. We have to pick our spots for the chaos."