When Pigs Fly is fabulous at New Conservatory Theatre Center

(R-L) Chris Plank, Philippe Gosselin, J. Conrad Frank,
Ryan Vásquez, and David Bicha
Photo by Lois Tema

When Pigs Fly: Musical Revue conceived  by Howard Crabtree and Mark Waldrop. Sketches and lyrics by Mark Waldrop.  Music by Dick Gallagher, Directed by Ed Decker. New Conservatory Theatre Center, New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA. 415-861-8972 or www.nctcsf.org;  May 11 – June 10, 2018

When Pigs Fly is fabulous at New Conservatory Theatre Center. Rating: ★★★★★

When Pigs Fly has made a triumphant return to the stage at the New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) possibly outshining their original production 15 years ago. Memory may be faulty but the present reincarnation seems bigger and better with another top notch five member cast giving it their all. It truly is an extravaganza of costumes, outrageous skits with clever lyrics with the actors seeming to be having more fun than the audience. Embedded in all the shenanigans are some serious satirical comments disguised as humor. Topical satire has been updated with Trump, Pence and Putin being the object of unrequited love in Torch Songs 1, 2 & 3.

The story line gets its start and title when young Howard Crabtree (J. Conrad Frank) during his high school conference with guidance counselor MS Roundhole ( Philippe Gosselin) who recommends careers in watch making, chicken farming, plumbing or garden supplies. Forget dreams of being a success in musical theatre. That won’t happen until “Pigs Fly” and the show is off and running with the ensemble strutting their stuff in “You’ve Got to Stay in the Game” dressed as the Queens of Cards

The revue moves along at a controlled pace under the sharp direction of Ed Decker. One can only imagine how he gets them on and off the stage in those fantastic costumes. It must be controlled mayhem in the dressing rooms but it never shows on stage with each scene seemingly out doing the previous. They really do not out do each other and are really additive giving you many chances to pick your favorites to remember.

Not only is there eye candy everywhere but there are technical effects such as flashing fluorescent colored lights outlining the shoes of Philippe Gosselin and Chris Plank as they belt out “Light in the loafers.”   Selecting specific costumes and numbers for mention is difficult because there are so many show stoppers. In “Not All a Man” has Philippe Gosselin as the front half of a centaur and there is no mention who brings up the rear end as the horse.

Embedded in act one is “Coming Attractions With Carol Ann” with David Bicha as the producer introducing the shows that will be presented in his “Barn Theater.” Full bodied Chris Plank steals this portion of the show in the coming musical “Quasimodo” singing “I’ve Got a Hunch I’m In Love.”  Plank again takes over center stage as Mae West in the hilarious “Bigger Is Better.”

There is more than a touch of seriousness within satiric humor: “Sam and Me” played by Philippe Gosselin, David Bicha. “Last one Picked” is a solo semi-serious stint sung with pathos and beautifully acted by J. Conrad Frank.  The first act finale with the ensemble “You Can’t Take the Color Out of Colorado” insists that (to mention a few): Miss out of Mississippi, Mary out of Maryland, Virgin out of Virginia and the “homo” out of Oklahoma but not the gays out of society.

The opening of the second act is a knockout with three cast members as stiff sixteenth center Frenchmen fops in preposterous absolutely beautiful yet hilarious costumes wearing monstrous head dresses. The other two members of the ensemble are sitting in front of dressing tables that suddenly become elaborate hoop skirts when they stand.

It might appear that Decker is saving the best for last but that is doubtful since each musical skit earns accolades adding up to a rollicking evening that should not be missed. In that final scene when technical difficulties do not allow a man sized pig to fly, Howard Crabtree dresses the four other actors in costumes that are representative of the four choices made for him by M. Roundhole and miniature pigs do fly all over the stage.

Not enough can be said about the team of designers who created the fabulous costumes and wigs, the technical crew and Joe Wicht the musical director. He sits off-stage left with an occasional wink and nod to the audience. He is excellent as he backs up the talented actors on the stage with only an unseen drummer for accompaniment. Jayne Zaban’s basic choreography is perfect for this song and dance musical revue and Ed Decker has another winner to add to his CV.

 Running time is about two hours with a 15 minute intermission and is highly recommended.

CAST: David Bicha, J. Conrad Frank, Philippe Gosselin, Chris Plank, and Ryan Vásquez.

CREATIVE TEAM:, Choreography by Jayne Zaban; Scenic design by Devin Kasper; Costume design by Keri Fitch, Wes Crain, and Jorge Hernandez; Lighting design by Robert Hahn; Sound design by Christopher Sauceda; Prop design by Ting Na Wang; Wig design by David Carver-Ford; Dialect coaching by Patricia Reynoso;  Stage management by Emilio Racinez.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com

(R-L) Chris Plank, Philippe Gosselin, J. Conrad Frank,
Ryan Vásquez, and David Bicha
Photo by Lois Tema