Thursday, June 13, 2024

Ruthless! The Musical is a flawless, must-see SF production

Ruthless! The Musical has been around the block for sure and even played last year at a different Bay Area theatre in addition to a version available on the streamer BroadwayHD. Photos: Lois Tema.

But it would be tough to top or outdo the current production at the New Conservatory Theatre Center as its simply flawless. The acting is the best ensemble of the season with all members of the cast in top form.

The show which is a parody/homage to The Bad Seed and All About Eve, among others, was written and first produced in the early 1990s but the book/lyrics and music by the duo of Joel Paley and Marvin Laird is as fresh and funny today as it was decades ago.

The funny story of a young actress who will do ANYTHING to be a star has so many standout songs to mention and they all help advance the plot. But it’s that cast that makes this the pinnacle production of this show.First we have Mary Kalita as the mother of our little star. She truly commands the stage and our attention as she morphs from 1950s mom into a more substantial character and has the most amazing singing voice. 

As her daughter, the bad seed herself Tina Denmark, is Melissa Momboisse. She is in great voice and takes her performance over the top as the star-hungry young actress.

They are matched by J. Conrad Frank as the talent agent who has secrets of her own. Frank is the perfect person to play this role as this is the part that has the big, dramatic speeches that seem perfect for a drag performer to deliver. And Frank is the perfect queen.

The three of them need to stay on their toes as everyone else is ready to steal the show.

Hayley Lovgren is hilarious, with her Melissa McCarthy delivery, as the school teacher who is stressing over the casting of the show-within-a-show. Timing: Perfect. Delivery: Perfect. 

Then there’s Lucca Troutman. Their first act character is fine and memorable even though brief. Then they come back in a different role in Act Two and chews up the scenery.

If that wasn’t enough, even our last character played by Jacqueline De Muro has her scene-stealing moments, especially in the show-stopping riotous song I Hate Musicals.

I have loved so many productions from NCTC but this is perhaps one of the best productions ever put on. Sure the source material is a winner, but this cast, the direction Dyan McBride and the sets of Matt Owens elevate this production into a higher sphere.

You must catch this show, you only have until January 7, so go now:

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Kevin M. Thomas

Kevin M. Thomas, or @ReelKev, is an arts blogger and entertainment reporter. In addition to his own website, and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for and contributes to as well as a semi-regular on San Francisco's cable TV show, "10 Percent."

Kevin M. Thomas has 157 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin M. Thomas

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