If you've ever wondered what it's like to be trapped in an overly warm basement while being trained to work in a fast-food restaurant, then Minimum Wage is the show for you. In this moronic musical entertainment, five employees of the fictional Happy Burger chain are charged with training a new group of employees (the audience). If the trainers are successful, they will be allowed to leave their subterranean facility to perform at an amateur singing contest. Little do the show's creators — Charlie LaGreca, Jeff LaGreca, and Sean Altman — know that the audience begins mentally prepping for the test within the first few minutes of the piece, anticipating its own escape from this ludicrous debacle.
For reasons that remain unclear, the show takes place in an ambiguous futuristic world in which the chain's sneeringly villainous owner delivers static-filled (and purposeless) video messages about paradigms for the company. There's a similar aimlessness in the show's songs, which generally reiterate one central joke ad nauseam. Particularly annoying is an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired number about a mischievous French fry that haunts a worker much like the tell-tale heart. A song for the chain's strung-out trademark clown veers between the inane and the offensive as he "answers" audience questions with random musings about his personal life. When the Happy Burger gang engages in audience participation, notably in "Shake Your Booty With Danger" (the follow-up to a lecture on workplace safety), the results are simply embarrassing.
While the company members (the LaGrecas, Bill Caleo, Elena Meulener, and Tony Daussat) display indefatigable energy, and their a cappella vocals impress, their efforts do not elevate overextended sketch material hung on a flimsy premise. Guy Stroman's unfocused, manic direction only underscores the material's weakness, and it comes as a relief when the Happy Burger crew completes its training mission.
Presented by the LaGreca Brothers and Minimum Wage LLC,
at the Theatres at 45 Bleecker/The Green Room, 45 Bleecker St., NYC.
Opened Oct. 20 for open run. Thu. and Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 and 10:30 p.m.
212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250 or www.telecharge.com.