Blank Page Productions
Music by MARSHALL PAILET
Book and Lyrics by AL PAILET
Dillon’s Reprise Room
245 W. 54 St. (bet. Broadway & Eighth Ave.)
Tickets: (212) 352-3101 or www.theatermania.com
September 5 – 20, 2003, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30
Directed and Choreographed by JAY DUFFER
Musical Director BEN COHN
Stage Manager ALLISON HALL
Marketing and Communications HUGH HYSELL COMMUNICATIONS
Press Representation CORINNE ZADIK
Todd – Michael Gillis
Tony – Karl duHoffmann
Zschoenczyhoh – Justis Bolding
Abercrombie/Boy/Ensemble – Hale Appleman
Neighbor/Boy/Ensemble – Eric Briarley
Mr. Gramble/Boy/Ensemble – Richard True
Bill/Boy/Ensemble – Daniel P. Vissers
Mom/Warden/Ensemble – Joanna Young
Drums – Sean McDaniel
Bass – Michael Keunnen
What were you doing when you were sixteen? You may have just finished a year of biological science that included sex education. You may have been playing for one of the school teams. You may have even been in the drama club. If so, take it as the great anomaly it is when I tell you that the music for the fun new play CRATCHETT FARM was written by veteran Broadway performer and current high school student Marshall Pailet. He is 16!
Sixteen? Yes. Marshall Pailet, currently enrolled at NYC’s LaGuardia School for the Performing Arts is responsible for the music and the orchestrations. Perfectly paired with partner and parent Al Pailet, author of the oft-witty book and lyrics, Marshall Pailet has created a CRATCHETT FARM to be proud of. An unlikely combination of stagecraft know-how, insider winks, wryly-pleasing direction (Jay Duffer), and teenage sensibilities, this one was a laugh-out-loud type of event that was aided greatly by the very talented ensemble cast.
In a seemingly normal little suburb called CRATCHETT FARM we find a high school biology class, an artistic young man yearning to make musicals, a handful of jocks, and a girl named Zschoenczyhoh (pronounced, of course, "Skanky Ho" – she’s Hungarian). Add to the mix a vacationing employee of Satan (here, taking the form of a dog and our narrator), a song about birds and smegma, and a science project called "SPERM! The Musical" and you have a modern musical, written for the open-minded, now audience it is geared to.
Though the teen sensibilities mentioned are responsible for the more lowbrow aspects of the piece, like the smegma song, and the whole fascination with writing a musical about the human reproductive system, it does not mean that these influences are bad. They are, nevertheless, of obvious origin. CRATCHETT FARM also has a lot of skill and wit behind it. With a nod to the traditional musical convention of the reprise, there is a song called "The I Want Song" that when reprised includes the lyrics, "This is the reprise to ‘The I Want Song’." Not a brilliant observation, but a fun one nonetheless. Then there is a nod to the off-off-Broadway crossover (presumably aimed at a show like URINETOWN), when SPERM! goes from classroom production to fancy stage show after a NY Times review. Lofty aspirations at any age!
The one big problem with CRATCHETT FARM is the ending, which gets a bit muddled and rushed. Most likely due to a decision to run the play as a shorter piece without an intermission, to make it a smash it would either need to be trimmed at the end, or expanded into a full two-act musical.
Pros and cons weighed, I say see CRATCHETT FARM for the pure fun of it. Good music, silly stuff to laugh at, and the novelty of a young composer do nothing to diminish interest.
- Kessa De Santis -