Sunday, April 12, 2009

What the Critics Had to Say about Onepiece

'Onepiece' Is a Spoofy Patchwork of Many Movie Pieces at Marigny Theatre

by David Cuthbert
Times-Picayune, 11/11/2008

When Carol Burnett spoofed Esther Williams' waterlogged MGM movie musicals on her variety show, she was constantly knocking one ear to get the water out of the other, a funny bit germane to the subject at hand.

"Onepiece, " which purports to satirize the self-same "Million Dollar Mermaid, " has nothing to do with Williams' escapist film fluff, with two exceptions: a musical number where "Hester Willings" does a striptease inspired by Williams' "Take Ten Percent Off" in "This Time for Keeps" and a sculpted 1940s coiffure that duplicates the artistry of stellar hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff, who kept the star's hairdo in place even underwater.

This is a catty, all-purpose parody that hopscotches film genres and eras with the confidence of a film fan who knows his movie conventions.

Randy Bibb has provided the evocative book, derivative, though not unpleasant, music and serviceable lyrics for this amusing, extended sketch of a show. In "Onepiece, " Hester is an aging, bitchy, Aquacade-cum-movie star threatened "All About Eve"-style by "Deanna Garland, " an Idaho lifeguard whose ambitions are fanned by Hester's fast-talking manager. There's a Mickey-and-Judy subplot and musical comedy digressions to pad things out.

Wendy Michaels looks more like Eleanor Powell than Williams, but gives her hard-boiled lines a sassy snap and socks across the "Never Say Never" tango and bluesy "You Don't Know Much About Hester."

Chris Wecklein brings a good voice and oily manner to manager Bobby Biscayne, and beaming, blond Joshua Peterson is juvenile love interest "Woogie" Pringle (recalling "Oogie Pringle" in "A Date with Judy"). Cammie West is stiletto-sharp as gossip maven Louella Parsnips, who has a song about 31-year-old child star "Surly Dimples" that is entirely superfluous and at the same time very funny. Tony Fennelly, as Deanna's looney tunes mother, has another out-of-nowhere song, but brings to it the instincts of an outrageous clown. This Mom is Norma Desmond, played by Ruth Gordon.

As Deanna Garland, Rebecca Fox doesn't suggest either of her movie namesakes. Her vocalizing is more on the order of Jeanette MacDonald and the love ballads veer toward operetta. T.J. Toups completes the cast as a hick mayor. Jim Walpole's expert piano accompaniment makes Bibb's melodies sound more substantial than they are and Glenn Meche directs in bright, definite fashion.


by Al Shea
Steppin' Out, WYES-TV 12, 11/14/2008

What a joy to see, on opening night, the trusty Marigny Theatre with a full house for their current production, ONEPIECE. And well-earned, too, for this delightful little satire on that famous water-soaked star, Esther Williams (with words, music, and book by the super talented Randy Bibb) is fun from start to finish.

Bibb sees Esther as “Hester Willings”, a back-stabbing, ambitious movie star bound to crush all who get in her way. She is envisioned expertly by Wendy Michaels, with impeccable stage timing making her the city’s new all-singing, all-dancing star. Like those old 1940’s College Musicals, ONEPIECE has the tough manager (played well by Chris Wecklein); the dainty ingĂ©nue and Hester’s big competition, strong voiced Rebecca Fox; and, of course, her tap-dancing beau, Joshua Peterson. Plus Cammie West as “Louellen Parsnips”, the gossip reporter, and marvelous Tony Fennelly as a half-mad Mother, who stops the show with “I’m a Nervous Wreck”.

All the zany adventures have been guided with a keen knowledge of good farce by Glenn Meche. Piano virtuoso Jim Walpole is the expert Music Director. As interesting and diverting as the company may be, ONEPIECE owes its success to the gifts of its author Randy Bibb, whose score is quite singable and whose lyrics are deft, original and surprising.

No wonder the enthusiastic audience roared their approval. ONEPIECE is a fresh, original, entertaining piece of theatre, adding more luster to the growing reputation of Marigny Theatre. Don’t miss it, playing week-ends at 1030 Marigny Street. Top Raying - 4 Claps of 4


by Patrick Shannon
Ambush Magazine, 11/18/2008

Randy Bibb’s original musical (Onepiece) inspired by the musicals of that cinematic fishwoman, Ester Williams, opened recently at the Marigny Theater to a wildly appreciative audience.

The work is a campy musical directed with an abundance of gay sensitivity by Glenn Meche, with impressive Musical Direction by Jim Walpole and bouncy choreography by El Tahra Ibrahim. Bitch lines abound and the performers seem to enjoy the verbal swordplay as each player gets a chance to prick a bit of blood from the ballooned egos of the characters. Mr. Bibb is to be praised for his lovely music and sharp witted book.

Author Bibb was fortunate in having an all star cast of mostly recognized local talents to help bring his rib-tickling creation into existence. Playing Hester Willings was Wendy Michaels, a girl in a one-piece who looks good, sings well, and knows how to sell it all. Chris Wecklein was Bobby Biscayne, her philandering manager who really only wants to marry her as he tries to enchant her by singing a couple of lovely love songs with his beautiful voice. Wecklein, as only to be expected, was excellent in his role. A big big local favorite, Cammie West, played the Louellen Parsnips role and she, of course, totally stole a couple of scenes, singing and dancing like the really talented big trouper she is and who never disappoints her many fans. Rebecca Fox played the young, young, young small town girl, Deanna Garland, who just happens to swim like a porpoise and who can also sing like an operatic diva. She just may end up replacing Hester Willings, willingly. Joshua Peterson, willingly or otherwise, was the quintessential “over the top” actor trying to play a butch role, which he did with just a touch of the “nell brush.” Playing Miss Deanna Garland’s mentally deranged mother, Mrs. Garland, was the incomparable Tony Fennelly, locally known as the Dame Judi Dench of local thespians. She is absolutely stunning as the unhinged mama in a nursing home and had the audience falling out of their seats with laughter. T. J. Toups did a quietly effective job as Mayor Dwight McDweeb and Mr. Davis.

Nice fortyish costumes were done by Regina Adams with that guy of many guises, Eric Webb as Stage Manager. This charming show can only get better and if you like camp with an occasional stilleto (both heels and verbal weapons) you deserve to treat you self and attend this laugh-filled delightful original musical. This is the type of show one might expect to eventually see at Le Chat Noir. It’s made for just such a venue.

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