Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NY Musical Theater Festival Review (sort of):I Got Fired

Note: I don't usually review shows in the NY Musical Festival, or shows written by and starring personal friends, but for a variety of reasons, I'll include some notes about this one because the subject is probably one that will appeal to many of my readers. I don't want you to miss out entirely just because I know Keith, but I promise that nothing here is influenced by the fact that I think he's a neat guy. I'll use the same format I use to review shows in the NY Fringe Festival. If there were tassels (like we award for the Fringe shows) or some other form of something awarded "1-5" with 1 being worst and 5 being the best to rate the show, it would have received 4.0.
--Lauren Yarger

NYMF Review: I Got Fired: A Semi-Autobiographical Sort-of-True Revenge Musical
Presented by: Moonshine Project; Producer Liz Ulmer
Writer: Keith Varney, based on a concept with Devon Goffman
Director: Steve Bebout
Choreographer: Dontee Kiehn
Music Director: Doug Oberhomer

Keith recreates a fictionalized account of the events leading up to his being fired and escorted out of the building by security at a NY medical school where he had been working in the special events department as a temp (for more than five years...). The laid-back, family-like atmosphere in the office run by Kathy (Toni DiBuono) is threatened when over-achieving Jenny (Kelly Karbacz) is hired. She looks and talks as sweet as the lollipops she distributes to her co-workers, but her eye is on Kathy's office. She is rewarded with promotions as she lies, manipulates and stabs people in the back to ingratiate herself with the big boss, Dr. Weinberg (Michael Thomas Holmes).

Meanwhile, caught in the crossfire, and singing some catchy tunes like "The Daily Grind," "Things Have Gone to S***," "Office Warfare" and "I Got Fired," are Keith's co-workers Steven (Devon Goffman) Mike (also Holmes) Rick (Collin Leydon), Chen (EJ Zimmerman), Maria (Robyn Corujo), Myrtle (Shana Barone) and Phil (Jake Lowenthal).

The funniest of the characters also are the most stereotypical: Mike as the office incompetent whose hysterical, near-death-sounding messages on the answering machine provide entertainment for his co-workers (and for me -- I laughed as heartily as I had when I and my co-workers used to gather around the answering machine to listen to a particular employee call in sick. Who knew that happened in other offices too?)

Maria is the busty, Latin bombshell; Rick is the geek who spends most of his time outside of the office watching "Star Trek." Chen, so called because no one in the office can pronounce her real Chinese name, is the Asian with an attitude shouting a curt,"None of your business!" to anyone asking a question work-related or otherwise. The humor comes not from the stereotypes, but from the fact that if you have ever worked in an office, you have worked with someone just like one or more of these characters.

• If you've ever been fired, had a boss from hell, worked with incompetent people or just worked in an office, you'll relate and enjoy.
• Rick's courting of Chen and their eventual coming together in a "Star-Trek" lovers number titled "Green-painted Girl." Funny stuff, engagingly staged.
• Lots of funny lines with many clever asides dropped in specifically for the audience's enjoyment.
• You can't help but take a little pleasure in knowing that there's a real "Jenny" out there whose actions have come back to haunt her and make her the villain of a New York musical.

• Some characters are stereotypical and/or underdeveloped.
• Some of the songs sound repetitive.
• Lots of curse words used in the lyrics and dialogue. It's a little lazy.

Christians might also like to know:
• God’s name taken in vain
• Language

I Got Fired has been extended with an additional performance Thursday at 1 pm at TBG Theatre, 312 West 36th St., NYC. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at http://www.nymf.org/ or by calling (212) 352-3101.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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