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Theatre / The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!

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The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! is a 2005 Off-Broadway musical with music, lyrics and book by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart. It retells the same basic plot parodying five famous writing teams.

The same four principals appear in the same four roles, only with slightly different names.

The master plot: Boy loves Girl; Girl can't pay the landlord and seeks advice from Abby; Boy finds a way to pay Girl's rent in time for the finale.

The five musicals within the musical, as presented in two acts, are:

  1. "Corn!" (in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein)
    People might say that Big Willy and June are in love. Big Willy denies it, sings about the beautiful corn, soliloquizes, "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera." Mother Abby leads June into a Dream Ballet.
  2. "A Little Complex" (in the style of Stephen Sondheim)
    The plot sours. Neuroses multiply, as do rhymes. Art isn't easy for Jeune and Billy: Billy has written a hummable melody song, and Jeune has thrown Jitter's artwork in the dumpster with other garbage. Jitter has an epiphany and waits for his revenge.
  3. "Dear Abby!" (in the style of Jerry Herman)
    Abby can't sing or dance, but she's still the toast of the chorus. Less plot than scene changes, but at least some old-fashioned show tunes.
  4. "Aspects of Junita" (in the style of Andrew Lloyd Webber)
    Sir Phantom Jitter wants Junita to sing his new rock opera for him. The Chorus roller-skates around the entitled title character. Mostly the old song and dance.
  5. "Speakeasy" (in the style of Kander and Ebb)
    Things are different nowadays in the Thirties. In this Darker and Edgier world, Jütter hosts a cabaret in Chicago, Villy is now a gay prison inmate, and Fräulein Abby advises Juny to sell her body to pay the rent.

In 2021, the York Theatre held a virtual production to raise money for a water main break in the theater.


  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "A Little Complex" includes alliteration in Jitter's Patter Song.
    What would be the matter with the murder of a model...if the model were a mooring in the middle of a model?
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: In "Corn!", Jidder intends to marry June unless he can collect her rent by 5 o'clock.
    Big Willy: Well, you cain't up and marry her jest 'cause she cain't pay her rent!
    Jidder: Oh, cain't I? It says I can right here in this Lease!
    Big Willy: That lease'll never hold up in court!
    Jidder: Yes it will. And don't call me Liesl!
  • Credits Gag: The original production listed the chorus roles played by the four cast members under this apologetic note:
    Really good actors like the ones listed never appear in the chorus unless it turns out that, well, they have to. And then they do so only grudgingly.
  • Disney Creatures of the Farce: Jeune is suffering from a mysterious condition similar to that of Johanna in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street or Cinderella in Into the Woods, illustrated by little birds literally flying around her head (which are crudely edited stock photos in the 2021 virtual production):
    I have little birds
    Flying 'round my head
    Why do the birds fly
    Around my golden hair?
    Are they building nests up there
    With twigs and springs and bits of twine?
    Who cleans the messes
    They leave in my tresses?
    Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Double Entendre: The leading character of "Corn!" is named Big Willy, which sets up this moment in his Carousel-like soliloquy about having a namesake son:
    I'll teach him to wrassle and play.
    Some fellers might think it's silly
    For a big guy like me to stay home all day
    Playin' with my own little Willy.
  • Double-Meaning Title:
    • "Corn!" takes place among the cornfields of Kansas and has an old-fashioned, hokey, corny sentimentality.
    • "A Little Complex" achieves a rare triple meaning: it takes place in a little apartment complex, everyone has a little psychological complex, and the music itself is a little complex (i.e., complicated).
  • Down on the Farm: Parodied in "Corn!", whose setting is "Kansas in August." Big Willy sings of being so fond of farming that he's now "in love with a wonderful hoe."
  • Dream Ballet:
    Spoken Stage Direction: As June drifts off to sleep, in her own little corner, in her own little chair, Dream June appears. Dream Willy appears. Together they dance a highly symbolic ballet. Sort of "Run of DeMille."
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: Lampshaded in "Dear Abby":
    Spoken Stage Direction: Abby appears at the top of a staircase. The audience applauds wildly, even though she hasn't done anything yet.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The opening number has a slew of puns on the word "musical."
    High heels and pumps — a shoesical!
    Down in the dumps — a bluesical.
    Washing your hair — shampoosical!
    Chill in the air — achoosical!
    Shows about cows — a moosical.
    Shows with meows — Cats.
    This continues during the song until he sings, "Not one more pun — maybe one or twosical!"
  • In the Style of: The same basic story premise is recreated in the styles of five different Broadway writers (or writing teams).
  • Lazy Neutered Pet: The Phantom Jitter is revealed to be a cat man who sleeps all day because he was neutered at age three.
  • LGBT Fanbase: Invoked in the "Dear Abby" finale:
    Chorus: We're queer for dear Abby!
    Spoken Stage Direction: The audience, led by gay men, rises to their feet.
  • Mad Artist: In "A Little Complex," Jitter is a painter who is so jilted by his artwork being tossed in the dump that he wants to commit murder in revenge.
  • Narration Echo:
    Spoken Stage Direction: Jidder trips and falls on his own knife.
    June: Oh, Jidder tripped and fell on his own knife. He's dead.
  • Patter Song: Jitter has a Sondheim-style rapid-fire musical soliloquy in "A Little Complex."
  • Pig Latin:
    Jütter: Here at the Speakeasy, we speak many different languages. But the favorite is Pig-Latin. To fool the police, Jah? Sprechen zie Eutsche-Day? Parlez-vous Rancais-Fay? Et tu Brute? Ha, ha, ha, ha. That was real Latin!
  • Reference Overdosed: The musical, as its title implies, is stuffed with Shout Outs to famous and not-so-famous musicals by famous authors.
  • Sung-Through Musical: Parodied in "Aspects of Junita," where Junita and Bill complain that their relationship is deteriorating because "we never talk anymore," since they have to relate to each other in "this wretched recitative." Subverted when Bill finally speaks: "Junita, we have to talk. Yes, talk!" Up until this point, only the stage directions are spoken.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Parodied with the title character of "Dear Abby!":
    Abby: Don't worry. I'm back! And in a stunning new gown.
    Spoken Stage Direction: Abby returns after her fortieth and final costume change of the show!