When Pigs Fly

The whole thing is fun for exactly one act. Unfortunately, there are two.

The best part of When Pigs Fly -- a deliberately goofy, gayer-than-thou musical that did well off-Broadway in 1996 -- comes when the shrill, tall birdbrain of a guidance counselor, Miss Roundhole, spins offstage in an ecstasy of petty rage. She holds a sign bearing our hero Howard's list of possible career choices; "costume designer" is not on it. (Howard is a suffering gay child in the Midwest who goes on to become something like Howard Crabtree, the costume designer who really did write the show.) In a cheap stage illusion, Miss Roundhole's gloved hands hold the edges of the sign, while her tall-wigged body (she's played by Daniel Howard) twirls. The sign reaches to Daniel Howard's neck, so it looks as if Miss Roundhole's head has come unhinged. Most of the show is like that: cheap illusion, gay jokes, plus big song-and-dance numbers that don't always work. When Pigs Fly is a musical-within-a-musical about Howard trying to make his costume-designer dreams come true in spite of Miss Roundhole's shrill prediction that he'll succeed in the theater "when pigs fly." (Sample lyric: "Brother, you ain't seen a thing/ Till you see bacon takin' wing.") So it's hard to tell how much is a joke and how much is simply bad. Trauma Flintstone does well in his more outrageous costumes -- a mermaid, a Queen of Diamonds, a nursing pig -- and Jeff Manabat sings a hilarious torch song about Dick Cheney, flirting with his girlish eyes and tossing a frilly red boa. The whole thing is fun for exactly one act. Unfortunately, there are two. -- Michael Scott Moore

 
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