Thursday, June 18, 2009

Frank Rich Can Suck Me

I’ve said from the beginning that I’d be completely straight with my readers. Still, a lot of people were skeptical about Tuesday’s blog, in which I described my 1988 theatrical flop, “Phallus”. So I dug up this old review. By and large, the critical response was favorable, but sadly, the one paper that has the power to make or break a show, well, broke our show.

New York Times Theater Review


By Frank Rich
Theater Critic

Broadway is currently home to the sorriest spectacle I’ve seen since “I’m Short, Black and My Folks Ripped Me Off”, the one-man show from actor Gary Coleman which polluted the Great White Way last year. But don’t unpack your bags just yet, because I’ve a feeling this abominable musical, which opened last night at the Winter Garden Theater, has already overstayed its welcome.

At 4 ½ hours long (with no intermission), “Phallus”, the brainchild of, and starring Ron Jeremy’s dick, is tedium incarnate. Set in London during the 1870’s, the story introduces us to Anne (Judith Light), the daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate who’s been betrothed against her will to William (John Forsythe). Problem is, she’s really in love with the mysterious and rarely seen caretaker of her manor, Dick (Ron Jeremy’s dick).

In the opening number, “I Don’t Want To Marry, I Just Want Dick”, Anne’s intentions are made painfully obvious. One wonders even more painfully why 4 hour and 20 minutes more were needed to spin this ridiculous yarn. Ms. Light’s voice is serviceable enough here, and indeed some of the lyrics show the promise of artistic merit:

"I feel as though I’m drowning in quicksand/No one can fill me like that Dick can."

At the two-hour mark, we are finally introduced to Dick, though Carl Bressler’s moody lighting works overtime to obscure the towering skin-covered behemoth. Dick’s heartfelt plea to Anne in what was obviously meant to be the show’s breakout ballad, “Let Me Rise To The Occasion” is sung with confidence by Mr. Ron Jeremy’s dick, but the music is less than memorable. In fact, of the 46 songs, only one, “You Can Count and Sit on Me”, has bounce and style.

You’ll hear a lot of folks oooing and ahhing over the show’s one special effect, an enormous helicopter which descends from the ceiling. But it is no sooner drowned out during the unfortunate climax when our hero is gruesomely decapitated. I’m not giving anything away here, since the musical is based on the beloved children’s book, “Anne And The Giant Cock.”

Do yourself a favor. As you find yourself at the theater, go two buildings down to the Helen Hayes Theater instead and see “Out To Lunch”, the new musical told from the perspective of coma-ridden Sunny Von Bulow. I guarantee you it shows infinitely more signs of life.

“Phallus” A New Musical. Starring Ron Jeremy’s dick, Judith Light, John Forsythe, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Marietta DiPrima, and Nunzio Galippo. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Book by Ron Jeremy’s dick. Produced by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. Directed by Fran Soeder.
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