Fringe Review: Piranha the Musical!
Once upon a time, some of the most elaborate Orlando Fringe shows were those with a distinctly local focus. As costs and ambitions rose, however, that seemed to become less and less the case. Who’s going to go to the trouble of writing, scoring and staging an entire musical that can never play out of town? Nowadays, satirizing the City Rueful is mostly the province of humble comedies written by eager amateurs whose good intentions far outdistance their wit.
Piranha the Musical! is determined to fish that unfortunate trend out of whatever fetid lake it’s been festering in, harpoon it through the head and throw it back. The show features the proverbial cast of thousands, some of them esteemed scene perennials like Joel Warren (who also wrote the script), Eric Pinder, Anitra Pritchard-Bryant, Shannon Bilo, and just about everybody else you ever called “that guy again.” It has a treasure trove of wonderfully witty songs by the supernaturally gifted Tod Kimbro. It’s extensively and amusingly choreographed. And all of that effort was in the service of a story about flesh-eating fish that take up residence in Lake Eola, biting off the private parts of area douchebags before they can fulfill their destiny of starring in reality shows and/or working in nudie bars.
At last – something for us.
The lacerating in-jokes are the best part of Piranha, and there are plenty of them: If you have ever starred in a TV commercial for a Central Florida law firm or auto dealership, YOU WILL GET WET. In fact, I would have liked even more of this locally oriented material, since the geographically unspecific locker-room gags that round out Warren’s script aren’t as inspired (and repeat themselves to boot). But even when the guidance on the page falters momentarily, the undeniable talent on the stage carries it through: Bilo in particular has a voice that can wreck walls.
This is not humor for the faint of heart. Seeing a piranha munch the legs off one of the downtown homeless, who then spends the rest of the musical pulling herself across the floor by her arms while pining for the animal romantically, is bracing on a whole host of levels. But the only real trouble I had was with the repeated suggestion that the musical’s many homeless characters are that way by choice. It honestly wasn’t clear to me if the dialogue to that effect was meant as satire of blithe Chamber of Commerce attitudes, or just emblematic of them. I’m going to give the Piranha folks the benefit of the doubt on that score, but while I’m not ordinarily an advocate for dumbing down, I’d politely suggest they clarify the point should the show receive an otherwise welcome revival. They need to make it plain that they’re simply taking no prisoners, not keeping the weaker prisoners alive to beat them up even further.
The Warren Acting Company (Orlando, FL)
Rating: M (Adult language, Sexual content, Violence)
Run Time: 90 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Puppetry, Dance
Tue, May 21 2013, 10 p.m.
Fri, May 24 2013, 9:15 p.m.
Sat, May 25, 4:20 p.m.
Sun, May 26, 6:30 p.m.