It has a really lame beginning?three guys throwing a Nerf football around--but, thankfully, the rest of John Kaufmann's musical comedy, "Two Girls From Vermont," is refreshingly imaginative and inspired. This "dirty pop extravaganza" revels in lowbrow hi-jinks and over-the-top characters, and each step of the way only gets wilder. Teenage lovers wooing each other with boy-band ballads, a father smitten with a smarmy song-and-dance star, a super-perky cheerleader chasing a spoiled son of royalty, and the manliest Duchess this side of RuPaul leading a tribute to Canada can only mean one thing--we have entered high camp heaven.
Playwright Kaufmann has a field day with plot twists and stage conventions, borrowing from sources as diverse as Shakespeare and "South Park." He adds an extra layer of fun with the familiar pop song interludes (a recent trend as seen in the films "Moulin Rouge" and "A Knight's Tale"), matched by Doug Brandt's whimsical original music. Brandt shares musical director chores with Jeff Manwaring.
Director Liesl Tommy has done a dandy job of harnessing the serpentine storylines, and Brent Smith adds fittingly unconventional choreography. The first act finale is a marvel to behold, with Tommy and Smith utilizing almost all of the acting ensemble's special skills listed on their resumes.
The performers are funny, freaky, and fully committed. Among the high-flying cast, Nathan Halvorson's Duchess is the essence of outrageousness, while Jeff Long as the royal son and Doug Brandt as the infatuated father are delightfully understated.
With some script trimming (particularly the shaky subplot concerning an anxiety-ridden court clerk and a reluctant jester), this production has "Rocky Horror" cult potential written all over it. So, if you miss this current run, check it out when they perform during the FringeNYC Festival in August.