With news of environmental disaster a daily reality, artistic response on the topic couldn’t be more timely. But instead of poe-faced polemics and dour finger-wagging, The Rumoli Bros. have concocted a delightful, fun, and super-smart musical. With inspiration from a certain Oscar-winning film with a remarkably similar-sounding name, An Inconvenient Musical, playing at the Factory Theatre’s Studio Theatre (it closes Saturday night), is shrewd for its simultaneous milking and mocking of both sides in the environmental struggle, while providing a clear message amidst the parody.
With a silly us-against-them/romantic comedy structure that finds its main character writing a tune that threatens the baddies, An Inconvenient Musical is effective in providing a hilarious and very current take on environmental themes. It’s chock-a-block with cultural references too, some musical-theatrical (Annie, Les Miz, Rent), some music-musical (AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins, uh…Midori), some filmic (Star Wars, Batman, Braveheart), and some, well, just plain obvious (General Electric, Walmart, George Bush). With the creative use of a powerpoint presentation a la Inconvenient Truth, a Schoolhouse Rock-inspired cartoon, and some amusing musical pieces led by a would-be David Suzuki, the Rumoli Bros. (Kirt and Brandon Firla) allow their talented cast to improvise and play off of in-the-moment reactions from both colleagues and audience members, making for a fun, creative atmosphere amidst the intimate confines of the theatre.
It’s fun, it’s relevant, and it means business. You won’t get any paper programs for An Inconvenient Musical, and you’ll be greeted by a large sign inside the Factory Theatre’s studio space telling you the entire production’s being powered by Bullfrog. You won’t want to leave at the end, either; the environmental facts that flash on the screen during the “credits” are just too mesmerizing. Still, you’ll be singing “Kick ‘Em In the Nuts” all the way home.
Photo by Kirt Firla.