Youtube Musical Review: ‘The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals’ is hilarious, horrifying in its underlying message

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Starkid’s 11th production ‘The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals’ was uploaded to Youtube at the end of Dec. 2018. (Photo courtesy of Team Starkid)

Rachel Bram

It has been about ten years since a group of college students called Team Starkid made a viral fan-parody of “Harry Potter” called “A Very Potter Musical” on YouTube. The group has since grown into a Chicago-based theatre group that writes, directs and stars in their own musicals, which they make easily accessible to their fans by uploading them to Youtube. These musicals often parody pop culture, including “Batman,” “Star Wars” and even the computer game, “The Oregon Trail.”

At the end of Dec. 2018, Starkid uploaded their eleventh production, “The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals,” a horror-comedy musical. Their latest show is strongly reminiscent of “Little Shop of Horrors” due to its campiness and dark humor.

Paul (Jon Matteson) is an “average” guy who hates musicals. When a meteor hits the local theater, the people of his town are suddenly performing musical numbers with synchronized choreography.

Paul is horrified to see his worst nightmare come to life, although he admits that the situation may seem silly and “not very scary.” Paul and his friends find themselves trying to stop the musical apocalypse from destroying their town – and from spreading to the rest of humanity as the fourth wall slowly begins to crumble, bringing the audience into the effects of the invasion.

Because the only characters who sing and dance are those who have become infected, “The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals” faces a unique problem where a very limited number of characters can express themselves through song. This could lead to a disjointed feeling, as songs will be more spaced out than in a typical musical, but the show manages to flow together quite smoothly.

Additionally, the limit on who can sing means that we do not get what is sometimes referred to as an “I Want” song, a common musical trope which allows characters to describe in detail their primary motivations. Instead, Paul’s contentment with his life means he doesn’t have “that one concrete goal that motivates all your actions,” seemingly making to be more immune to the alien threat. Even with these limitations, writers Nick and Matt Lang develop engaging and multidimensional characters.

As always, the Starkid cast has great comedic timing, but the show is more than just a loving mockery of musical theatre. It can be heartbreaking at times.

Mariah Faith Rose (Zoey/Alice) and Corey Dorris (Bill) give powerful emotional performances during “Not Your Seed.” While Matteson does not get to sing and dance like the rest of his castmates, he too proves himself with his hilarious and heartwarming portrayal of Paul.

One of the most standout performances comes from Robert Manion, who truly hams it up when he plays the reclusive Professor Hidgens during his “Show Stoppin Number [sic].”

The show is purposefully ridiculous at times, but composer Jeff Blim (Mr. Davidson/Sam) doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to political commentary in “America Is Great Again,” which grapples with the consequences of fascism taking over a society. However, not all of the political commentary lands properly. While “Show Me Your Hands” does come across as a pointed rebuke of the police, the chipper and jazzy tone somewhat undercut the seriousness of police brutality.

“The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals” is one of Team Starkid’s best productions to date. Rewatching the show can be incredibly rewarding, enabling the viewer to notice lines throughout the play that take on a more comical and sinister meaning when understood through the lens of the complete show.