Saturday, September 21, 2019

Scotland, PA

Previews are always an exciting time for a show. Last night, when I saw Scotland, PA in previews at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre, director Lonny Price came out to let us know we would be the first audience ever to hear new song lyrics that had just been given to an actor that day!

The number was a patter song, he explained, with lots of words sung very quickly, so the actress would be holding a pad of paper. He said we would know the moment when it came, which was true, but fortunately, the character was a detective taking notes anyway, so had he not announced it in advance, we might not have noticed a thing.

If you haven't heard about Scotland, PA yet, it's a new musical with songs by Adam Gwon and a book by Michael Mitnick based on the 2001 film by Billy Morrissette. Inspired by William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the movie and the musical tell a familiar story of ambition, murder, and madness, but re-set in a 1970s-era fast-food restaurant in the middle of rural Pennsylvania.

The three witches are replaced by three hippies, played in the musical by Alysha Umphress, Wonu Ogunfowora, and Kaleb Wells. Ryan McCartan and Taylor Iman Jones play the murderous couple, whose fierce sexuality only grows as they plot to kill their way to the top. In the film, Christopher Walken played the homicide inspector Lieutenant McDuff, but in a brilliant gender switch, the character in the musical becomes Peg McDuff, played by the exceptional Megan Lawrence.

It was Lawrence who did that wonderful patter song, and Gwon's lyrics can be hysterical. Josh Rhodes's choreography is inventive and memorable, and the set designed by Anna Louizos provides just the right tone. At intermission, even the lobby is transformed into a fast-food restaurant adorned with a certain golden M.

This show deserves to be a hit, so I recommend getting your tickets now.