It's Bringing the Laughs at the New York Theatre Festival
And that is exactly what it is. Kelly Flatley and Maddie Powell's debut musical, part of the New York Theatre Festival, performed at the Hudson Guild, is a musical romantic comedy about two young people obsessed with a particularly unfashionable (yet fashionable) brand of breathable sandal. These shoes form the basis for their whole personality, and fill their lives with the only meaning they need or want. When the tyrannical business oligarch who owns the franchise decides to close the store where their beloved quarry is peddled, they assemble a ragtag team of misfits to fight the power. They experience tragedy, family, and love as they go through their misadventures in comfortable footwear.
This show is exactly what you expect it to be based on the flyer. It has cute songs, fun gags, broad silly characters, and it wraps up just before it outstays its welcome. Throw in a few fourth wall breaks and hints of meta-humor for flavor, and there you have it, ready to go and neatly packaged. There's no reinvention of the wheel, no breaking of new ground, but everything on display is fun and enjoyable. Though it's self-aware, it's not quite self-aware enough to be deconstructive. Though it's at times cynical, it's not cynical enough to be a commentary on anything. Whilst it's surprising to its audience, it never seeks to challenge them either. It simply is what it is, which is a fun, unpretentious show that makes you smile and then ends.
As a debut effort by a group of talented young people (the show was written as a high school class assignment and then developed further) it's a promising first showing. Flatley's music and lyrics are catchy and fun. Powell's book has a solid gags-per-minute rate. The cast are all game, and appropriately bombastic in the archetypal roles, and all of this comes together neatly into a cohesive show that, like a good stand-up comic, comes up to its spot, tells its jokes, and leaves the audience feeling good.
All of the people involved are going to continue upwards on to bigger things. Which is why the show can be forgiven for its technical shortcomings. Head-mics are inconsistently taped, the musical wiring varies between adequate and borderline negligent, and the set is, pretty literally, thin on the ground. The cast make up for it by being plucky, charismatic, and endlessly entertaining, but it does make you wonder how much more these people would be able to do with a stronger technical support system around them. One day, probably quite soon, they will have that, and that's a show you definitely won't want to miss.
Overall, Crocs! The Musical recommends itself as a simple, straightforward comedy, about simple, straightforward shoes, featuring simple, straightforward characters. You will not leave this show with your world rocked, but you will leave it with a smile on your face. Moreover, you will leave wanting to keep an eye on the names involved in this, because at the very least they're going to stick around and make theatre. At the very most… who knows?
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Thomas Burns Scully is a Popdust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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