Top 5 Reasons to see ‘F#%king Up Everything’

The cast of 'F#%cking Up Everything'

The cast of ‘F#%king Up Everything’

F#%king Up Everything, to use its excised program title, is not quite as dirty as its title suggests. Or maybe it is, since they censored the offending word. Either way, F#%king Up Everything (FUE) is really fun. A hit at the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival, this co-creation from David Eric Davis (of the band Uncle Izzy) and Sam Forman (the upcoming Sleepless in Seattle) has found its home at the Elektra Theatre inside the Times Scare building at 42 Street and 8 Avenue.

This hipster-(indie)rock-musical follows the adventures of puppeteer Christian (Max Crumm of Grease!) and the indie-rock singer Jake (Jason Gotay of Bring it On: The Musical!) who are both vying for the attention of the hipsterette triple-threat (ukulele playing, organic food eating, queer-studies majoring) Juliana (Katherine Cozumel in her NYC debut). In lieu of a review, here are the top five reasons to go see FUE:

1. The Puppets. You see mention of a puppeteer and expect no puppets? Well, puppet designer David Valentine (the upcoming The Muppets…Again) and Crumm do not disappoint. Most of the jokes here involve the puppets’ obscure identities and the fact that they are part of Christian’s day job as a children’s puppeteer. Onstage, he uses the puppets to talk out his “issues” and receives advice from a who’s who of rock and roll personas and a Noam Chomsky cameo. The best puppet can’t be revealed here, but really, it is the best.

2. The Locale: FUE is very clearly set in Brooklyn, but in the really cool, hipstery part of Brooklyn. Funny enough, one of the scenes is set at my local bar, in the “notorious” neighborhood of Bushwick. The way in which the show inhabits its chosen environment is both charming and spot on, as rendered by set designer Deb O (Rite of Spring). It makes the set its own unique character, replete with blinking strings of Christmas lights, strange barroom knick-knacks and a rather clever couch that quickly moves the action around the set. The world of FUE is meant to be fun and the set is totally on message.

3. The Band: First, no musical is really complete without some onstage musical chemistry. That goes without saying. But the band behind Ironic Maiden (Douglas Widick, George Salazar, Eli Zoller and Adam Stoler), whose full setup commands the stage all through the show, is a really rocking band in its own right. They provide fun and catchy music throughout the show and do a fantastic job of supporting the whole musical. The bassist (Widick) and drummer (Salazar) even get drawn into the plot as more than just musical partners. When the band does its final flourish, you really feel like you’re at a rock concert.

4. The Ensemble: And speaking of rock concert, every band needs their indie-rocker-douchebag-hipster singer (their words, not mine), and he comes in the form of Gotay, sporting the requisite wool cap and skinny jeans. Even though Gotay is sweating star power he does it in character and the entire ensemble brings their A-game with ease. Dawn Cantwell (Dogfight) as pining and clever Ivy and Lisa Burnbaum (Man of Rock) as the Brooklyn Bowl booking manager Arielle were both a treat. It was really a joy to see this mix of talented actors, some making their first big debuts, mesh so completely into a group. It’s the sort of happy situation that allows for multiple standout performances and everyone delivers.

5. The Heart: FUE bills itself as a “rock musical comedy with heart” and they don’t kid around. Unlike a lot of angsty modern works that degrade their characters or lament the current state of things, FUE really delivers on the good old boy-meets-girl story and celebrates this new generation that, for better or worse, is here to stay. And FUE succeeds in doing so with a lot of charm. Watch the show and you can imagine it playing out in bars across the country (in the obscurely cool bars, that is) and it’s not at all depressing to think about.

So if you haven’t seen this show and you want a fun, rocking night out (with puppets?) that involves hipsters (hold the irony), check out this talented team and their spirited musical, playing now at the Elektra Theatre, with more information available here.

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2 Responses

  1. Sounds so good. I really wanna see it. Another great review Alan!

    • Thanks, Shane! I’m glad you liked it. Let me know if you get the chance to see it, and look for the cast interviews, coming soon. Adios!