The premise: I appreciate the idea of an improvised musical created by a cast in a very short amount of time. I like the idea quite a bit.
The cast: The core cast has some very strong talents in it and they have some great guest stars as well (I’ve seen this show more than once in previews, too). Certainly the quality of the musical is somewhat dependent on the talent from week to week.
What I didn't like
I wonder if there’s any better way to choose the songs that are going to be sung each week than randomly choosing a person in the audience for each one? This has led to some great choices in the shows I’ve seen and some really bad choices each time—and I have wondered if that’s just the luck of improv here, or if there’s actually a flaw in this particular step in the process.
Also, sometimes it seems like the songs are going to have their lyrics changed to suit the actual story the performers are playing through and sometimes they just seem to sing the song. I have thought, while watching, that it might work a little better if there was a clear rule on this (for the performers or the audience) and it was consistent throughout the show.
My overall impression
It’s late on a Fringe Friday/Saturday and you’ve seen show after show. How would you like to relax? Why not head over to Three Clubs and see a free, completely improvised musical to round out your evening? That’s the premise behind the very fun, very free and ALWAYS entertaining MadLib the Musical.
I first ran across this show during their previews before Fringe began and I tried them out once just to see if there was anything here. And to my surprise, I found the premise behind their show really fun. A completely new musical prompted by a list on songs and a title—nothing more. That’s all the get and five minutes later, boom—off to the races we go. And like any improv, some of what you get after that is fantastic and some is a little flat. But with a very talented cast, what you’re sure to get is a group that is working hard to make you laugh and have a really good time. And that’s what Lauren Byrd, Nathan Ondracek, Kate Bowman and Mitchell Turner all do every performance. They each play to their strengths, of course—Lauren to her singing and sweetness, Nathan to comedy and timing, Kate to sassy and sexy/sultry tones and Mitchell to brassy and brazen moments—and then they add guest stars each week to spice things up even more. And those guest stars are often put on the spot, placed in the starring roles of the musical so they get to either shine brilliantly (or melt-down hysterically, depending on the song and plot offered by the audience). It’s all in great fun.
Is the show perfect? No, but improv rarely is PERFECT. Improv is about the act of creation in the moment, taking the instant in front of you and adding to it. And Mad Lib does great improv, every performance. It’s exactly the sort of thing that makes for an enjoyable end to a day here at Fringe.