Synopsis: What do you get when you pair a semi-neurotic, New York comedy writer with two music superstars from Nashville? A hilarious and audacious farm-to-fable musical about the one thing Americans everywhere can’t get enough of: corn. Shucked is the new musical comedy that proves sometimes tearing down a few walls, rather than growing them, is the only way to preserve our way of life. Shucked is about to turn Broadway on its ear and offer a kernel of hope for our divided nation.
What happens when you marry the Music Man with an ear of corn? This is the question that Shucked tries to answer. Meet the citizens of Cobb County in this farm-to-fable musical. They are celebrating the union of Maizey (portrayed by Caroline Innerbichler) to her fiance Beau
(portrayed by Andrew Durand) when the corn mysteriously and suddenly starts to get sick and die. This leads Maizey to leave Cobb County and adventure to the great city of Tampa to find help. There she meets podiatrist conman Gordy (portrayed by John Behlmann) who agrees to come to Cobb County to help save the corn, despite his ulterior motive being to escape the debt he owes the mafia. Along the way, we learn the true meaning of family with plenty of corny jokes popping up left and right.
Shucked hit the Broadway scene under the cloak of mystery and confusion. Nobody knew what the musical was about, the marketing was flashy and fun with zero discernible plot, and a push for a social
media blitz led to audiences running out to see the show with the idea being to go in with as little information as possible. This mindset allows the audience to experience the show as it was intended. The show very much has some faults and some weaker moments and to truly be a perfect show might have benefitted from an Off-Broadway run or out-of-town tryout, but what we get with Shucked is a truly enjoyable time.
Robert Horn's book paired with music and lyrics by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally creates a fun and exciting tale. Bad puns, dad jokes, and corny comedy are littered throughout the show to the point you trip over them sometimes without realizing it. The cast does an excellent job of mugging the audience when a joke is intended to not be immediately leading to a massive payoff in letting the joke breathe. Peanut portrayed by John Behlmann is the biggest culprit of this style of delayed reaction jokes and he navigates the material perfectly, stealing the show every time he was onstage, only to be outshone by Alex Newell. Mx. Newell's first act number "Independently Owned" is a show-stopping moment that leads to an immediate standing ovation upon completion. Adding to the list of strengths in characters are the Storytellers Grey Henson and Ashley D. Kelley who keep the story flowing, but also fill out the needed side characters whenever possible. Lastly, the set designed by scenic designer Scott Pask works with the cast rather than against them, not necessarily breaking the mould, but showing the strength a really good unit set can bring.
Unfortunately, one of the weaker portions of the show was Caroline Innerbichler's portrayal of the leading lady Maizey. The character was weaker in terms of writing compared to the rest of the cast, which is a shame as she is meant to be the straight man in the show to keep the comedy from flying off the rails. Many times Maizey felt very excluded from the narrative of the show despite it being centred around her. Many times in the tale, things would just happen to Maizey that the rest of the characters would try to say was Maizey's free will
deciding, despite us all watching her happen into it accidentally. Due to this character having weaker material to work with, a strong actress is needed to carry the role forward, Ms. Innerbichler in her Broadway debut does an okay job but frequently gets swallowed up by the material, leading her to many times be forgotten in the conversation. As a whole the book, while a fun watch, did have moments that fell flat and could have benefitted from a final edit of the material to pick up the story's pacing, for example, Tampa took an exorbitant amount of time for the story to focus exclusively on convincing Gordy to come to Cobb county.
Overall, Shucked is a truly fun show. Not every show needs to be life-changing and break your heart. Sometimes you just want to experience the overwhelming joy of a good fun story that will make you laugh from beginning to end. It also has a great message with Mx. Newell's character Lulu and her line "Family is telling someone to go to Hell and hoping they get there safely."
Shucked is a solid fun 3.5 out of 5 stars, not everything needs to change my life to be fun, and this reviewer cannot wait to see it hopefully again.
Follow our Entertainment Pundit: