"Shucked" Musical Review: An Hilariously Corny and Entertaining Comedy That Will Have You Laughing, Singing, and Cheering for the Underdogs! - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Friday, May 5, 2023

"Shucked" Musical Review: An Hilariously Corny and Entertaining Comedy That Will Have You Laughing, Singing, and Cheering for the Underdogs!


The reliable narrators, Grey Henson and Ashley D.

The fiery corn-whiskey proprietor Lulu (Alex Newell), 

"Shucked" Musical Review: An Hilariously Corny and Entertaining Comedy That Will Have You Laughing, Singing, and Cheering for the Underdogs!

I fell head over heels for "Shucked," a musical about corn that left me shucked with laughter and joy. When I had the chance to attend an early rehearsal, I was delighted to find myself seated in front of the book writer, Robert Horn, who was equally amused by my natural reactions to his rib-tickling humor. Horn even enlisted me to take notes on “what worked” and what did not, showcasing how much he valued my input.

"Shucked" is hands down one of the funniest musicals I've ever seen. From the onset, the reliable narrators, Grey Henson and Ashley D. Kelley, set the playful and corny tone of the show. The duo presents a "farm-to-fable" story about an odd, isolated, and self-sufficient rural community that's remarkably diverse. The crux of the problem centers around all things corn, and when the corn crops suddenly fail, Ms. Maize (Caroline Innerbichler), the town's cutie pie, makes a daring decision to leave their small world and venture out to find help, leaving her fiancé, and resident corn expert, Beau (Andrew Durand) literally at the altar.

Ms. Maize lands in the big city, of Tampa, where she meets Gordon (John Behlmann), who she thinks is a "corn expert." He's actually a con man and the son of a long line of hustlers and con men and women. When he witnesses Maize's level of pure ignorance, he's amazed to discover that her town may be sitting on a rare, but valuable mineral deposit. He returns with her to the dying corn town to help them solve their problem.

These townsfolk might be uncomfortably obsessed by corn, but they aren't all stupid, and some of them sense that Gordon’s up to no good. However, Maize's liberated cousin, the fiery corn-whiskey proprietor Lulu (Alex Newell), likes the challenge of breaking a bad boy.

It’s in her nature to fix things that are broken, and in her only solo number, “Independently Owned,” she brings the house down.

Also on the "let's expose Gordon" team is Beau’s hilarious bro Peanut (Kevin Cahoon) and the sage-wise Grandfather (Dwane Clark). Even the ensemble performers, in their comic moment playing multiple parts, weigh in.

In the end — because this is a fable — the corn is saved by Gordon. There are countless musical moments that will make you smile, but the showstopper is "Independently Owned" sung by “Cousin Lulu.”

Lulu sings about being an independent and liberated "w-o-m-a-n," and that excitement whips through the theater like a much-needed breeze on a hellish, hot day.

Newell's vocals are so commanding and potent that she brings the audience to their feet in a well-earned standing ovation. The songwriters, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally have crafted a track that perfectly showcases Newell's range and vocal power while never losing the show's spirit.

The book writer, Robert Horn, is a veteran comedy writer who has worked on a variety of successful TV shows and movies, including "Designing Women," "Living Single," and "Teen Beach Movie." With "Shucked," he brings his sharp wit and comedic expertise to the stage, crafting a hilarious and heartwarming story that's sure to entertain audiences of all ages.

Horn's writing is clever, witty, and full of hilarious one-liners that will have you laughing out loud. He expertly balances the show's playful and corny tone with moments of genuine heart and emotion, creating a story that's funny, touching, and uplifting.

In addition to his impressive writing credits, Horn is also a Tony-nominated playwright, having earned a nomination for Best Book of a Musical for his work on "Tootsie" in 2019. His talent and experience are on full display in "Shucked," where he proves himself to be a master of musical comedy.

The ensemble brings many robust comedic moments, playing a number of archetypes, and it's difficult to be anything less than excellent in a book written by veteran comedy writer Horn. The direction by stage veteran Jack O'Brien is spot-on, and the production design by Scott Pask is simple yet effective.

"Shucked" is the cream of the crop when it comes to musical theater! This ear-resistibly funny show will

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