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3/8/2024        HONEYMOON IN VEGAS          Marietta Theatre Company




(Bias Alert:I’ve spent the past several years as go-to lighting designer for Marietta Theatre Company, and, despite my retirement from the ladder-and-booth, maintain close ties with many folks in the company, and am friends with director Zac Phelps and several members of this cast.Which is to say, I can’t NOT praise them – if I had hated the show, I would have avoided writing ANYTHING about it.Oh, I’m also a rabid fan of composer Jason Robert Brown.You think what follows will be non-objective appreciation?Bet on it!)


Jason Robert Brown!  


Need I say more?  Mr. Brown’s star has been rising ever since his revue Songs from a New World burst into our CD Collections back in 1995 and Audra McDonald covered some of his work in her debut solo album (“Way Back to Paradise” 1998).  I saw (and adored) Parade on Broadway in 1998, literally the week before my move from New Jersey to Marietta (and don’t think that show’s references to Marietta and Cobb County didn’t give us pause.  And yes, one of our first “get to know the area” tours was to find the site of Leo Frank’s lynching.  Curiously enough, just around the corner form the “Big Chicken.”  I’m sure something can be written about the connection between Southern History and Tacky Kitsch in THAT juxtaposition.) *


Since then, I have had a love/adore relationship with Mr. Brown’s shows, particularly The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County, 13, and many others, and even have a couple of his solo albums (**)  on my various Amazon Music “Road Trip” playlists.

Which is to say, when his musical version of Honeymoon in Vegas (The semi-amusing 1992 movie with Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, and James Caan), debuted in 2015, I snapped up its Original Cast CD and have listened to it often enough to have the songs more or less memorized.  So just try to imagine my joy when I learned my friends at Marietta Theatre Company have chosen it as their opener at their new digs at the Main Stage of Marietta’s Theatre in the Square.


Now, imagine my delight in seeing it, discovering it had been cast to perfection (with new faces to the company in the leads), and was a total joy from beginning to end.  Now, imagine my regret at not seeing it until the next-to-last day and not being able to share my joy with all y’all!  Which explains my (guilt-rooted) delay in posting this appreciation.

So, let me do a recap for those who may not remember the movie.  Jack loves Betsy, which he repeatedly tells us in the marvelous opening number.  But he lives under a “Never Get Married” curse conjured by his mother on her deathbed.   Jack and Betsy have been together for ten years, and Ghost-Mama will not give him a freaking break!  He finally decides to “tear off the band-aid” and spontaneously run off to Vegas with Betsy for an insta-wedding.


But there’s still that curse!


It turns out that Betsy is a dead ringer for the late wife of Vegas “entrepreneur” (euphemism for strongman gangster) Tommy Korman.  One out-of-the-blue poker invitation, one LOSING straight flush, and one $58,000 bet later, and the only thing that will save Jack’s kneecaps is if Betsy will spend a weekend with the “I promise to be a gentleman” Tommy.   What can possibly go wrong?


Well, the short list includes a really angry Betsy, a detour to Kauai, a tour guide with an obsession with “Fricki Fricki”, an airport that can ONLY route Jack back to Vegas through a labyrinthine series of connections (all including Atlanta of course), a visit to a “Grove of Disappointed Mothers,” and a troupe of “Flying Elvises.”


This was a marvelous cast, led by new faces Robert Millerick (Jack) and London McKenna (Betsy), who create memorable characters in a believably happy/dysfunctional relationship.  Half the fun of this show is watching the dysfunctional half grow to monstrous proportions then get vanquished by the very real connection between the characters, a connection beautifully realized by the actors.  In support is skillful work by Walker Davis as Tommy, Vickie Zuffoletti as Mama, Zander Krenger as henchman Johnny Sandwich, and Angela Rodriguez as Mahi (the “Fricki Fricki” tour guide).  A tight ensemble dips into multiple other roles with ease and effectiveness.  Respectful shoutouts to Lance McDougall, Alex Self, Naoki Breger, Claudio Pestano, Isabella Engberg, Marissa Garcia, Lane Hall, and Parker Reeves!


Credit also needs to go to Musical Director (bias alert —long-time friend) Jenn Loudermilk who kept the harmonies working and the score elegant and worthy of Mr. Brown’s score.


Okay, the technical side may still be a “work in progress” as the company grows into their new home --  mics occasionally dropped out or fought with slight distortion.  And, I should probably not comment on the lights, as that was usually my role with MTC.  That being said, I have to admit a little awe that designer Noah Popp is apparently so very young and so very talented – he had a lot more to work with than I ever did in the Alley Stage space, including a ton of LED’s, a few moving lights, footlights, and projections.  He skillfully created a mix that had few misses.  If this is how he starts, I really look forward to seeing how he develops throughout the rest of MTC’s season.  For the record, The only thing I would have done differently would have been to set up a chase with the incandescent bulbs lining the platforms – if I had had enough time, circuits, and wiring.


The set was a basic cheesy Vegas-esque stage, with different scenes moving in and out with minimal muss and fuss.  The program lists no designer, but Mike Clotfelter is usually the talent  behind MTC’s “look,” and he received a shout out during the curtain speech.  Costumes also go uncredited – they were a timeless combination of Vegas, Hawaii, Elvis, and contemporary looks that gelled in eclectic splendor.  I can’t help but wish my friends on the MTC board would take a little more care in crediting all their talented artisans and contributors (or at least the folks “wrangling” them all.).


So, should you regret missing Honeymoon in Vegas? Yes.  Okay, maybe not quite as much as I regret missing the original Broadway production in January 2015. ***   It’s was (and will always be) a joyful celebration of love and Vegas and Elvis.  And who can’t but help falling in love with that?

-- Brad Rudy (, #HoneymoonInVegas#MariettaTheatreCimpany

*  For the record, Mr. Brown’s latest, The Connector,  will be running Off-Broadway at the MCC Theatre until March 17 with Scott Bakula.  My inner Theatre Geek is wallowing in “Wish I could see it” fantasies.


**  I highly recommend listening to “A Song About Your Gun” from his “How We React and How We Recover” album from 2018, especially if you have strong feelings about America’s obsession with guns.  In fact, EVERY song on that album is heartfelt, moving, and memorable)


*** The irony is I could have seen it on a New Year’s Day 2015 visit to NYC but opted instead to see James Earl Jones in You Can’t Take it With You, which remains my patient spouse’s favorite play ever.  And it was James Earl Freaking Jones!!  And we LOVED it!  Barbara  has forgiven me (maybe), but I’m not sure if the incident  will ever move from my “Big Regrets” memory box.

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