Thursday, April 29, 2010

Everyday Rapture

Sherie Rene Scott's "Everyday Rapture" qualifies as the most unexpected and unusual success story of the Broadway season. In fact, her breezy, offbeat musical, which briefly played Off-Broadway one year ago, was confirmed for a Broadway run just four weeks ago.

Roundabout Theatre Company had originally planned to end its season with a revival of Terrence McNally's "Lips Together Teeth Apart" starring Megan Mullally, who unceremoniously quit after two weeks of rehearsal.

With few options available, Roundabout recruited "Everyday Rapture," which consists of only Ms. Scott, two back-up gals, a hyper male teen and five-piece band, as a last-minute replacement.

Scott, who is best known for playing secondary lead roles in musicals like "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Aida," possesses a killer voice, sexy looks and amazing comedy skills.

"Everyday Rapture" is structured as a sincere memoir of growing up in "half-Mennonite" Topeka, Kansas, encountering prejudiced anti-gay ministers, finding empowerment through song and obsessing over a variety of icons including Judy Garland, Jesus and, weirdly enough, Mr. Rogers. One surprisingly sultry medley strings together familiar Fred Rogers songs like "It's You I Like" and "I Like to Be Told."

At the same time, Scott's show is a relentlessly silly deconstruction of childhood innocence and egotistical diva tell-alls. Scott is not playing herself so much as parodying herself through excessive exaggeration.

In one absolutely fabulous sequence, Scott engages in a heated email conversation with a young male (Eamon Foley) who lip-synches to Scott's vocal track of "Strongest Suit" from "Aida" on YouTube. When Scott tries to compliment the lad, he accuses her of being an imposter of the real Sherie Rene Scott.

Michael Mayer's 90-minute production, which incorporates a bizarrely diverse songbook ranging from "Get Happy" to "Killing Me Softly with His Song," makes for delicious entertainment.

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