"This is the most offensive and morally unredeemable musical I've ever heard. I'll do everything in my power to make sure this is never produced."
Thus allegedly spake Stephen Schwartz upon first hearing The Beastly Bombing Or A Terrible Tale Of Terrorists Tamed By The Tangles Of True Love . Alas, the composer of Wicked and Godspell has failed, because I saw it produced last Saturday at The Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles on the second night of an eight-week, sixteen-show run and I could feel years of coursing vitriol in my veins turn into a warm opiate rush. Laughter is close to love and heroin in the painkilling department.
With a book, lyrics and direction by Julien Nitzberg and scored and musically directed by Roger Neill (King of the Hill), The Beastly Bombing is a Gilbert and Sullivanesque operetta about two Al-Qaeda terrorists and two white supremacist terrorists meeting on the Brooklyn Bridge. Both sets are there to blow up the bridge but they bumble that and run into two dope crazy, fraternal twin daughters of the President of the United States. The sextet are arrested and take Ecstasy while in jail. The E encourages love to find its way and the six idiots re-arrange as couples.
Meanwhile, someone does blow up the bridge, though you'll never guess who it is. The narcissistic & nitwitted President declares war on a sovereign nation (again, you'll never guess who), singing "I have to bomb somebody!" A pedophile priest marries the couples and Jesus performs an erotic pas de deux with The Prez. The War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the prison-industrial complex, gay marriage, the grand canyon between rich and poor, the craving for oil and virtually every twistory of recent history is sung, danced and lampooned by a buffoonish human race.
Just like real life, except funnier and the music is better and the cast considerably more appealing.
Just like real life, the only people everyone can agree to hate is the Jews. While I watched an actor playing a Hasidic extremist (who also hates Jews, but only secular ones), I experienced a flashback to 1968, sitting in a midtown NYC movie theater and watching The Producers. When the infamous and epic production number "Springtime For Hitler" began, replete with Nazi chorus girls, I laughed harder than I'd ever laughed at a movie before. It's a Jewish thing to laugh at the forbidden. You grow up knowing you could have been cattle car-bound for Auschwitz and you develop a Neutron bomb sense of humor that eviscerates everything breathing in your path. Call it survival instinct.
I found out after last Saturday that Beastly author Nitzberg is a Bronx Jew whose mother is a Holocaust survivor. This made perfect sense. The Beastly Bombing satirizes the relentless tragedies of the last decade. It's the first great work of comedy to emerge from the post-9/11 little planet of horrors. If, as Lenny Bruce said, satire is tragedy plus time, then it's time to laugh, if only -- so then -- we can move on.