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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review- Insecurity (MITF)

The Fab Marquee review by David Stallings.

Well, it’s festival time. And it would be remiss not to include something from the Midtown International Theatre Festival. This year, MITF has several interesting offerings from some of Off-Off’s most established companies. Oberon Theatre Ensemble is in Midtown again—this time with their first musical, Insecurity with book, music, and lyrics by Mickey Zetts.

Mickey Zetts, Paula Galloway, Jessica Farr, Carlos Rafael Fernandez

Insecurity follows a motley crew of haphazard security guards at a plush luxury complex in Miami. The campy farce seems to fit Oberon’s classic meets contemporary mission in that much of it is reminiscent of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The guards come from all walks of life—the playboy Reynolds (Mickey Zetts), Star Trek nerd mama’s boy Frank Zume (Walter Brandes), blue collar man’s man Gelbart (Keith Patrick Dunn), the gay Latino Sgt Tuttle (Carlos Rafael Hernandez), and even the sassy new girl Officer "Downtown" (Paula Galloway). This zany bunch led by a charming Captain Skip (Randy Howk) must work against and with each other to keep their jobs in bleak economic times. This does not impede the slapstick though. Zany plots and silly jokes abound as they plot against the building's board—led by tenant Ms. Katishaw (Fiona Choi).

Through the fluffy plot, one theme rings clear—when it comes to love, class and status always play a factor. Three class conscience relationships emerge based on varying levels of deceit. Officer Reynolds seduces and drops a rich Russian mafia princess Tatiana (Jessica Farr). Officer "Downtown" is seduced by a much older man (Dr. Freedman played by Chris Combs) and much question the value of comfort versus passion. And Captain Skip himself charms Ms. Katishaw merely to save the fate of his gang. While told with pure fun, this plot has the potential to dig much deeper and leaves one wanting more than just farce. The play was its best when rules were crossed and lies abounded.

Mickey Zetts shows much talent in his score. Recently it seems musicals have lost the ability to have the audience leaving humming a melody. This is no problem for Zetts—who hits with fantastic tune one after the other. His fun folky patter songs suit the play, but most memorable are his haunting ballads. Though they seem out of place in the play in its current manifestation, songs like Ms. Katishaw’s The Rules pull the audience forward. It would be lovely if Zetts trusted his potential for depth—even a farce can dig deep—and followed through with his moments of heart.

The performances were across the board fun. Carlos Rafael Hernandez’s witty Tuttle and Fiona Choi’s brazen Katishaw were the standouts of the evening. Paula Galloway as Officer "Downtown" proved to have quite the set of pipes. Overall, everyone was suited to their roles and entertained. Mark Karafin’s direction was sharp and stepped up to the festival challenge of little time in the space and sharing of set materials.

Overall, the audience had a fun time, laughed a lot, and left humming…all good things with a musical.

Oberon Theatre Ensemble & The Midtown International Theatre Festival
Book, Lyrics and Music by Mickey Zetts
Directed by Mark Karafin
Final Performance: Saturday, August 1st at 3PM
Workshop Theatre

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at .

Workshop Theatre | 312 W. 36th St, Fourth Floor | Manhattan.

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