'Ruthless! The Musical' is wicked fun

'Ruthless! The Musical' is wicked fun

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The award-winning cult classic comedy, “Ruthless! the Musical,” will open at The Little Theatre on Friday, April 22 for a nine-show run. Winner of the 1994 Outer Critics Circle award, among others, the show spoofs Broadway staples like “Gypsy” and “Mame,” as well as classic films like “The Bad Seed” and “All About Eve.”

The 30th anniversary version being presented at The Little Theatre was updated by playwright and composer Joel Paley, and according to director Don Irven, the Little Theatre is one of a select few across the country producing this version prior to its publication.

"It has been an honor and a true delight to work with Joel on his new edition of this hilarious script," Irven said. "I have been directing for over 35 years, and an opportunity like this comes along once in a lifetime.”

Irven said be prepared to laugh. “This spoof has enough plot twists to fill several classic movies, and the references to musicals are very clever. If you know and love theater, this brilliant script is especially for you."

The dark comedy delves into the world of theater, child acting, parenthood and unbridled ambition, with a plot that centers on the exploits of a 1950s housewife, Judy Denmark, and her cute but sociopath 8-year-old daughter, Tina, who will do absolutely anything to land the lead role in her school play.

Bart Herman plays Sylvia St. Croix, a talent agent who approaches Tina hoping to become her manager.

“It’s kind of a bucket show role for me,” said Herman, who has played women in the theater before. Herman said the role of Sylvia was originally played by a man.

“It’s not that I’m a man in a dress playing a woman. It’s about the transformation. It’s sitting like a woman, walking like a woman. It's the mannerisms that are much different than mine personally. I'm not very lady-like at all, so that's the big challenge,” Herman said.

Playing the role of Tina Denmark is 19-year-old Sara Hohman, who said the biggest challenge in playing an 8-year-old is getting the mannerisms down.

“The patterns of the way she delivers her lines is a little bit difficult. Making it believable is tricky. She's a mischievous little brat but the sweetest little brat. She's devious and manipulative but in the sweetest way, so switching back and forth between the sweet Tina and the manipulative Tina is a challenge,” Hohman said.

Taking on the role of Tina’s mother is Larissa Carrick. “I am a housewife straight out of a '50s sitcom,” Carrick said. "I’m very conscious about keeping everything clean and tidy and looking pretty, and the apple of my eye is my daughter, Tina, who is a performer. I just think she's the greatest person in the world. I'm also basically her secretary because my life completely revolves around her.”

Carrick, who also is the show’s producer, said the musical has a nostalgic feel. “If you grew up watching certain movies and television shows, you'll pick up on a lot of things. A lot of it will feel familiar to you, even though it's a brand-new story. In the end it makes you question how far you would go to make your dreams come true.”

The songs also may seem familiar, even though all are original. “The music in this show is very good,” Herman said. “There are definitely flavors of songs from other shows. If you're really into music, you will hear a similarity, especially to the music from 'Gypsy.'”

Rounding out the cast are Shannon Mitchell, Gillian Kaschak, Kate Lynne Miller and Jade Boffo.

“Ruthless! The Musical” will run April 22 to May 8. Friday and Saturday performances will start at 7:30 p.m. with matinee performances on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $15 at the door, online at www.thelittletheatreonline.org, by calling the Performing Arts Center box office at 330-308-6400 or in person at the PAC.

Explicit language and adult themes are used in this production.

The Little Theatre is located at 466 Carrie Ave. NW in New Philadelphia. Sponsored by Barnett Realtors, the show is presented through a special arrangement with Concord Theatricals.

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