Friday, January 3, 2020

Die Hard, the musical parody—Funhouse Lounge—SE Portland

           Never Say Die!

    This camp musical is written and directed by Andy Barrett, with musical direction by Jesse Groat, music composed & arranged by James Liptak and choreography by Justine Isla.  It is playing at their space, 2432 SE 11th Ave., through this weekend.  For more information, go to their site at

    It is said, “dying is easy, comedy is hard!”  Since no one can verify that, guess we’ll just have to take their word for it.  Camp (either intended, or otherwise) has been around for a long time…from the days John Barrymore rolled his eyes in a silent version of Jekyll & Hyde, through Flash (ahh-ahh) Gordon, Rocky Horror Show, Young Frankenstein, et. al., with the ultimate king of camp going to Mad Magazine (who undoubtably did their own print camp version of this iconic action film).

    The tricky part of Camp is to do it as a homage to the piece, laughing with it, not at it.  And these folks appear to be masters (this being, at least, the third, sold-out incarnation of this piece, with another promised next Christmas).  Look for future parodies of Point Break and Star Trek in the future, as well as generous portions of Improvs, libations and food…and the infamous “Clown Room,” but only if you dare!  A fun time will be had by all.

    Die Hard, the action-filled flick with Bruce Willis, spawned three sequels, and a couple of dandy villains in the guises of Alan Rickman and Jeremey Irons.  But they, too, with all the madcap mayhem going on, did have there tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, as does this one.

    The plot involves a corporate Christmas party, hosted by a famous Japanese firm in their skyscraper building.  Holly (Kate Faye Cummings), a manager in the company, and the estranged wife of rouge Detective, John McClane (Sean Ryan Lamb), is at the top of her game.  But there is the added burden of a band of international thieves, headed by madman, Hans Gruber (Landy Lamb) and his motley crew, consisting of the pessimistic, Inga (Mandy Khoshnevisan), the indiscriminate killer, Karl (Chad Dickerson), Tony (Jon Gennari), and other miscreants (Nefertiti Porter and Linh Nguyen).  The white hats consist of Alex Buckner and Murphy Jackson as lawmen.

    The plot involves millions in bearer bonds that this company has, and the bad guys trying to relieve them of this commodity.  But one, lone cop, methodically thwarts them at every turn.  There are vicious fights and killings, explosions, falls from very high places and gun battles, all taking place in an area the size of one’s living room!  So, reality must take a back seat to viewing this production.  And, in doing that, let your imagination soar, as well as your appreciation for the abstract and camp and, if you do that, this show will curl your toes and put hair on your teeth…as I said…let go of reality, and enjoy!

    Their songs are all delicious, as are the performances.  I especially liked the opening ensemble number; the sardonic love song, Unbreakable; One Job More, with the Nordic brothers; Real Power, with mastermind, Hans; My Time, with the ladies; and Catchphrase, with the fellows.  And S. lamb and Cummings are in excellent voice, as well as being fine comedic talents.  And L. lamb, as the villain, is in a class of her own, as the nefarious head baddie.  She is exception in her acting and singing, as well as creating an unforgettable character!  I can only hope these three will again repeat their roles next year.

    Barrett, Liptak, Groat, Sam Dinkowitz, Isla and Matt Insley, all should be lauded for a production that has, at least, the earmarks for an off-Broadway show!  Also, a shoutout to Haley Ward, the Asst. Dir./Stage Manager, who is a terrific talent in her own right as a performer, someone who I have touted for years in my reviews.

    I would wish the seating was better, as the audience is on the same level so some of the scenes were difficult to see.  I do recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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