Flies! The Musical! turns Lord of the Flies into a giddy musical frolic | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Flies! The Musical! turns Lord of the Flies into a giddy musical frolic

And—spoiler alert—Piggy lives!


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By the time Nicky Mendelsohn steps into his follow spot as Stephen, a socially inept teenage vegan, the drama kids of Lovely Valley Performing Arts Magnet High School are already in trouble. Having moved rehearsal to a wilderness area for their upcoming production of a musical based on Lord of the Flies, they're already settling into the delirious state of nature William Golding wrote his book to interrogate. Hungry and rowdy, a detachment leaves Stephen behind to forage alone while they hunt for meat. Suddenly, as Mendelsohn's falsetto extols nature's glories in song . . . well, it's hard to describe what happens next, because it involves a raccoon, a deer, and a wild boar, all played by hand-operated puppets. Suffice it to say that this Pride Films and Plays production, with book and lyrics by Larry Todd Cousineau and music by Cindy O'Connor, is a giddy frolic of a musical comedy with equal doses of frame-breaking irreverence and warmed-over cliche.

The standout is Pigtails (Missy Wise), the play's substitute for Piggy, a meek and humble boy in Golding's book. Whereas Piggy has his brains splattered onto a rock, Pigtails assures us in an early aside that no one will die here. The lowered stakes only ensure a more hilarious disproportion between act and feeling, light comedy's formulaic stock and trade. This entire cast's singing is remarkable, they have such marvelous comedic timing all around that you wish their jokes had been a little less obviously written. Michael Driscoll directs.   v

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