Kristin Loughran Reviews

Theatre Review: ‘Pretty/Funny’ at MusicalFare Theatre

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You’ve seen it before: the lonely girl, an outcast, worrying her way through life until something happens to help her come out of her shell and realize her worth… but not told like this. Through musical comedy, dance, and modern media, Marisa Guida (conceiver, Book, co-lyrics) takes us on a predictable coming of age journey for Genny (Arin Lee Dandes), with a unique and fun twist… encouraging us to clown around and shine in your own light.

“. . .the perfect feel good show. . .”

Meet Genny, a lovable girl entering the unknown horrors of middle school with her parents, Mom (Amy Jakiel) and Dad (Louis Colaiacovo), totally stoked and eager to support their little princess. However, Genny’s excitement soon turns sour after she meets up with her best friend (Leah Berst) who’s just returned from camp, smart phone in hand and a new clique to bond with. Life only goes downhill from there. With the current day media telling girls how to look and behave, unfair behavior at school both from students and a teacher, Genny’s mother working for a beauty campaign across the country, and her father being fired from his job, Genny starts to crumble under the pressure.

Then, as fate would have it, Genny accidentally finds solace in Imogene Coca, the pioneering female comedian that no one’s heard of. In an attempt to cheer his daughter up, Dad suggests that Genny write her term paper on Coca, explaining in great detail (and song) all about the wondrous woman from the black and white era.

This is where “Pretty/Funny” shines, in it’s ability to recreate not only a real-life Imogene Coca (Nicole Marrale Cimato), but to dim the lights and reveal demonstrations of how early 1900’s vaudevilles performed on stage. Kudos to producer/director Randall Kramer for effortless transitions/combinations between reality and daydreams. Constantly during a musical explanation of something requiring visual aid, actors would dance in and out of the scene without disruption or confusion, purely there for comedic effect or just a fun dance number.

The entire cast works so well together, the enjoyment each actor exudes on stage beams to the audience and sets the mood for the duration of the show. Doug Weyand’s tasteful choreography includes hip hop, tap, ballet, and physical comedy routines that adds that little something extra to every musical number or scene. Of course the music, composed by Philip Farugia, combined with toe-tapping dance numbers, creates annoyingly catchy tunes that you’ll be humming days later.

“Pretty/Funny” is the perfect feel good show that will inspire you, educate you (right after the performance I went home and Googled Imogene Coca, what a legend), and make you reflect on the social expectations forced upon little girls today, which could be the main, underlying focus of this show. Why is society so glued to the media? Why do we need that product that promises us to look younger? Why listen to what a magazine says you should look like? Don’t conform to today’s “beauty” standards, don’t let anyone try to put you in a box. “Pretty/Funny” insists you can do better; you can stand out and be the most wonderful version of you, be yourself despite anything.

Running Time: 2 Hours with one 15 minute intermission.

“Pretty/Funny” runs until August 13, 2017 and is presented at MusicalFare Theatre. For more information, click here.