ATI goes ‘Big’

By John Lyle Belden

“The Big Bang: The Musical,” presented by Actors Theatre of Indiana, has nothing to do with the similarly named sitcom that recently ended its TV run. Instead, picture a cross between “The Producers” and “History of the World, Part 1” — sans Mel Brooks, but still funny.

Written by Jed Feuer and Boyd Graham, who staged it Off-Broadway in 2000, the show is a presentation for potential New York backers (us in the audience) of what Jed (played by Darren Murrell) and Boyd (Jon Vessels) promise will be the next sure-fire musical smash.

Imagine this borrowed Manhattan apartment as a full Broadway stage, and accompanist Albert (Brent Marty) as a full orchestra, as a cast of hundreds (portrayed by our two manic creators) bring to life the entire history of Western Civilization, from Adam and Eve – with their hit number, “Free Food and Frontal Nudity” – to the present. Fortunately, we get just the “highlights” of this extravaganza/trainwreck in a hilarious 90 minutes.

Chock-full of cheesiness, dated references and over-the-top slapstick, Murrell and Vessels still manage to “sell” this show, even if it’s obvious the fictional backers shouldn’t buy in. “The Big Bang” is a satire of creator hubris and naked pandering in the Big Apple, as well as a silly farce that even steals/homages a Carol Burnett gag. The more you like Old Broadway, the more you will love this mock musical, directed by New York-based entertainer Michael Blatt.

Performances run through Feb. 20 in the Studio Theatre in the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Carmel. For tickets and information, visit atistage.org or thecenterpresents.org.

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