The reason for the timing of my trip (while it had also hopefully been to celebrate my finished the GD extensions – but that was true wishful thinking) was to see a musical comedy titled IDAHO in a new venue for me – the Forestburgh Playhouse in Forestburgh NY.
After having been somewhat disappointed with the relative amateur nature of the OUR GANG theatre company in Ocean County (minutes from LBI) I was truly pleased and delighted with my introduction to the Forestburgh Playhouse.
I actually do not remember how I first came across the existence of the Playhouse – it was probably last fall while visiting the area in a tourist guide or some similar publication. It has apparently been around for some 50 years – although under various names over the years. I “Googled” it earlier in the year and checked out its current season.
In addition to old standards MAN OF LA MANCHA and CHICAGO, which I had seen several times before (on Broadway and in regional theatre), was the new musical IDAHO. Here is how it was described –
“A bawdy, original, laugh-out-loud musical comedy that pays homage to Broadway’s Golden Age classics! Tater country is turned spud-side-up in IDAHO! When a mail order bride comes to town and falls in love with the wrong man. Born (out of wedlock) from the golden age of musical comedy comes a new love story . . . a twisted tale of wife stealin’, spud peeling’ and double dealin’ at a time when men were men and Aunt Pearlie carried the shotgun.”
The theatre looked like it had once been a barn. There was only one level – no mezzanine or balcony. And, again a pleasant surprise, it is apparently an equity house. Because it was, based on the directions, in the middle of the back country of NY I chose the Wednesday matinee so as to be traveling each way in daylight. While, at 57, I may not have been the youngest member of the audience, the number of those younger than me could be counted on one hand.
The show turned out to be an excessively, although not offensively, bawdy (a difficult balance to maintain – and proven by the fact that it appeared none of the senior citizen audience walked out) send up of OKLAHOMA, complete with a rousing production number in which the cast spells out the name of the state.
It starts out with “Heck It’s A Helluva Day”. The handsome lead sings about his “Tater Wagon” (without fringe). There is a dream ballet. The cast includes a girl who can’t say no (she once “dated” a soldier named Charley Company) who sings “The Boys Are Never Put Out . . . Because I Do”. While everything may have been up to date in Kansas City, this musical tells us “Boise’s Just As Noisy As Kin Be”. The villain of the piece is not Jud, but Jed. And, borrowing from another R+H classic, the matriarchal Aunt leads the cast in singing an inspirational (You’ll Never Walk Alone – like) “Screw Up Your Courage” (“Don’t be a pansy and piss in your pants – screw up your courage!). And during the Tater Festival the Aunt even started to sing about the fact that the potato grower and the cattleman should be friends, but the song was interrupted and never finished.
The show was great, an as-promised laugh-out-loud (which I did) musical comedy. I was surprised to learn that it had been an entry in last year’s New York Musical Theatre Festival, productions of which I attend each year. How could I have missed it? Definitely two thumbs up from me.
While I will not be returning to the Forestburgh Playhouse again this year, I look forward to the announcement of next year’s schedule.