When (More) Pigs Fly!

With this Naughty Austin revue, it ain't about the story; it's about the songs – and the costumes

Arts Review

When (More) Pigs Fly

Arts on Real, through Jan. 26

Running time: 1 hr, 40 min

Ah, the musical revue! Those compendiums of songs strung together with only the slightest of stories to support them. Theatregoers in Austin just can't seem to get enough of them, and if producers can't find a new one, they make up their own or cobble a couple of them together, as Naughty Austin director Blake Yelavich has done with this one. The story, such as it is, centers on the trials and tribulations that one Howard Crabtree, played with boyish exuberance by Kirk Addison, experiences when trying to put up his dream musical. That also might be the story of When Pigs Fly, which Naughty Austin produced a couple of years ago, or it might be the story of Whoop-Dee-Doo!, the other revue that Yelavich drew from to produce this, um, sequel. Whatever the case, it ain't about the story, people! It's about the songs!

Or, at the very least, it's about the costumes! As Yelavich says in his curtain speech, you'll see 120 costumes in 90 minutes (give or take), and see them you do: a centaur, Restoration Frenchmen, a Dream Curly, an Uncle Sam, someone dressed in plumbing supplies, multiple fairies, and more than a few men in drag. Yes, it's a gay musical revue; make no mistake about that. In fact, the most effective number in the show is the first-act finale, a patriotic ditty about gay pride opining, among other things, that you can't take the Mary out of Maryland or the sissy out of Mississippi. In the 22 years I've been watching live theatre in Austin, I can't recall a show that reveled in its gayness the way this one does. And I saw Pageant. Twice!

Among the performers, the always dependable Walter Songer and Bryan Schneider stand out, but Doug LeBelle steals the show with his Wicked Witch of the West schoolmarm, Miss Roundhole; his crazed musical-theatre producer, who writes her own musical revues (talk about irony); and especially his torch singer, who pines for Dubya, among others. LeBelle steals every scene he's in, and when he's out there solo, he dominates the stage. Despite minimal amplification, not once did I have a problem hearing or understanding the singers because of the more-than-able accompaniment provided by the twopiece band, Dr. Don McManus on keyboards and Terri Lord on percussion.

Yelavich wears so many hats in this production, I'm surprised he didn't turn into a coatrack: producer, compiler, director, choreographer, costume designer, lighting designer; he even wrote the lyrics to some of the songs. Stretching himself that thin, you might think that something in the show would fall down, and some things do: On occasion, actors aren't illuminated, the choreography is sometimes so pedestrian that you can catch the scent of a sidewalk, and some of the actors hit only one level, which is sinful even for a revue as kitschy as this. But the songs are catchy, I got more than a few laughs, and the costumes are almost worth the price of admission. And yes, there's a pig, but I won't tell you if it flies. You'll just have to see that for yourself.

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When (More) Pigs Fly!, Naughty Austin, Blake Yelavich, Kirk Addison

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