Bodily Functions--the Musical; The Grand Scheme | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Bodily Functions--the Musical; The Grand Scheme


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BODILY FUNCTIONS--THE MUSICAL, Corn Productions, and THE GRAND SCHEME, at the Cornservatory. Robert Bouwman and Todd Schaner's new musical is like a Farrelly brothers movie--but not quite as funny. The good-hearted story is punctuated by gross-out humor and underscored by a trite message: individuality is good, conformity is bad. The oddball Bodily family--who spend their time singing about such functions as farting, vomiting, and menstruating--are outcasts in their condo association, headed by the puritanical Norma McNoserson (a fantastically wicked Graham Kostic in drag).

Bouwman, who also directs, should have pared down the material: two hours is too long for a show with nothing substantial to say. But the songs induce chuckles, and the cast bring fine voices and lots of warmth to their characters, especially Monique Madrid as the rebellious daughter who just wants to be normal and Russell Fike as the hilariously awkward teenage son. Becky Werve's fabulous costumes make the show a real treat: the McNosersons and their ilk are all in glamorous black and white while the Bodilys sport raging 70s-inspired colors.

Also playing at the Cornservatory is The Grand Scheme, Robert Buscemi's strange but engaging one-man show, directed by Jenni Lamb. Buscemi performs 13 quick, mostly unrelated pieces that are like auditions or short, sweet vaudeville bits. This affable performer is a good physical comedian with a wide-ranging imagination and a silly streak--in one sketch he plays a sex-ed teacher "freak dancing." The show has an undercurrent of repressed, bitter sexuality, and Buscemi is at his best when he slides between charming and crazy, with a slight pause at menacing. His goal seems to be entertainment, and he provides that, mostly. But a unifying theme might have given the comedy a boost.

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