|Kurt Koehler Productions||
by Kevin Taft
Tuesday Mar 12, 2013
Spoofs of popular bad movies or TV shows are nothing new, but they can be hit or miss depending on the cleverness of the writers and cast. Overplay the obvious and it becomes a bit of a dud. Hit the nuances right, however, and you’ve got it nailed. Thankfully, this is the giddy tone of "Invincible, The Legend of Billie Jean -- The Musical" which knows how to make fun of a beloved bad movie and still make it smart and clever.
The ’80s film has become a cult classic due to its nutty story-line, self-serious speeches ("fair is fair!") and random coming-of-age nonsense (the actress who plays the voice of Lisa Simpson gets her period in the back seat of a beat up car.) In reality, the movie is kind of a drag, but it’s the weirdo structure and plot that people love to make fun of.
In short, Billie Jean (Helen Slater) is a hot redneck teenage girl who lives in a trailer park with her loving mother and brother Binx (Christan Slater). Her relationship with her brother is a bit gross as they seem more like sexually frustrated boyfriend and girlfriend then siblings. Anyway, Binx has a motorbike that some roughnecks smash up because Billie Jean won’t give "it" up to them.
Binx gets the bike back, but is beat up in the process. So Billie Jean storms down to the auto repair shop owned by the main bully’s father where she demands the kid (Hubey) pay back the $608 it will cost to fix the bike. Hubey’s dad Mr. Pyatt tries to work out a deal with Billie Jean which would include him forcefully having sex with her. (Sounds logical to me.
This doesn’t sit well with brother Binx who pulls a gun on Mr. Pyatt that he finds in the cash register. Before you can say "what is up with all these crazy names?" the gun accidentally goes off and Mr. Pyatt is shot. The kids dash out and soon enough they are on the lam with two of their friends in tow.
The "legend" of Billie Jean is that their story inexplicably makes national headlines and the rumors about her and her friends being violent delinquents begin to swell. Stranger still, after she videotapes her "we’re innocent and not going to take it anymore" speech that they send to the news outlets, she becomes this hero for a new age and teens across the country become infatuated with her.
Everyone -- from the members of the small ensemble who play multiple roles to Jacquelyn Denning’s Putter (the infamous period-getter) to Sam Pancake’s dude Binx to Matthew Herrmann’s dual role as Hubey and rich boy Lloyd -- is terrific. Along the way Billie Jean will cut her hair off after seeing two minutes of "Saint Joan," save an abused child, and make her famous speech that includes her nonsensical mantra, "fair is fair." (Seems fairly obvious, no? "Tree is tree!")
Directed by Kurt Koehner, the spoof musical is a loving and hilarious homage to the ludicrousness. You might remember that the only good thing to come out of the film was the theme song called "Invincible" by Pat Benatar. Benatar notoriously hated the film, so it’s only fitting that her music be used "jukebox-musical" style to aid in telling the story.
Oddly enough, the songs fit quite nicely. But it’s really the cast that makes this dizzy confection soar. Everyone -- from the members of the small ensemble who play multiple roles to Jacquelyn Denning’s Putter (the infamous period-getter) to Sam Pancake’s dude Binx to Matthew Herrmann’s dual role as Hubey and rich boy Lloyd -- is terrific.
But as Billie Jean, Jennifer Dohn is the show’s true star. Every winking nuance of the character is played to giggly perfection. She knows how to play the character so straight that it makes it that much more entertaining. Not to mention, the girl has some pipes on her. She’s just a delight to watch and reminded me of a young Kristen Wiig. She’s that good.
Benatar’s music is cleverly dispersed throughout and used in inventive ways. "Shadows of the Night" is particularly amusing when, halfway through, the cast is literally dancing with their "shadows." That said, the show doesn’t make fun of Benatar’s music. In fact, it just displays how awesome it is and how relevant it can still be.
That’s the beauty of it. We’re laughing at the mocking of a film that deserves to be mocked, but then rocking out in our seats to some incredible ’80s classics. What more could you want?
"Invincible, The Legend of Billie Jean -- The Musical" runs through March 23 at the Cavern Club Celebrity Theater, Casita Del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave, Silverlake, CA. For info or tickets, visit www.cavernclubtheater.com
Some of the most fun I've had a live event in a long time. As much fun as The Spidey Project and just as clever. If you are a fan of the movie or just enjoy creative theater, you will have a great time!
If you like the movie and like Pat Benatar, you will LOVE the play! Campy, intimate fun!! We were so close, I could feel the sweat drip off the actors.
The creativity surrounding this show is phenomenal. The writers took a "blah" film script from the 80's and turned it into a bonafide musical comedy. How did they see that all of Pat Benatar's hits fit into the plotline? It's uncanny. I haven't seen a cast work so hard in a long time. Truly an ensemble piece. Only 3 actors are not in the main cast of characters, but their work shines equally bright (sometimes more), because they commit to every insane shenanigan the director has put before them! I wish it had a longer run.
funny. there is not a dull moment
I haven't laughed this much since seeing "Chico's Angels." What's surprising is you apparently don't need to see the film prior as one of my guests hadn't and laughed all the way through. She streamed the film the next day on line and called to tell me she much preferred the play.
It's amazing the level that these actors commit to their characters to make parody come across as hilariously serious. Even the secondary roles grab onto their characters and make them so in your face; you can't help but even love the villains.
If you have not seen this show, put it on your list QUICK. It's a must see. Just make sure you pee before curtain or you may have an unintended accident during the show. You are forewarned.
Hilarious play! Loved it!!! Face hurt so much cuz I couldn't stop laughing.
The director and creator of this show has assembled a truly entertaining evening. If you are a kid of the '80's, you will be floored by how much comes back to you. If you are not, you will appreciate and fall in love with the performances, from the main characters to the ensemble.
I felt that it was an evening where the whole audience is into it and the execution of the dance moves on such a limited space stage are rather extraordinary.
One of the funniest shows I have ever seen! We laughed till we hurt.
Invincible made me laugh harder than I have ever laughed during any other play or performance. The intimate space is perfect, as I feel you get a much better experience being able to see every hilarious facial expression. The use of the small set was so incredibly creative; from the hanging bedsheet that depicted a lake, to the projection screen, to the puppet - everything worked perfectly. The actors were SPECTACULAR. Everyone was actually funny and could actually sing! This production surpassed all of my expectations.
“Invincible is a Benatar bonanza!... Billie Jean is perfect here, but it's got enough going for it that we could see it in a bigger venue too. The movie's motto, may have been "Fair is fair," but at this androgynous '80s-themed spectacle, fair is fierce!”
Lina Lacaro - LA WEEKLY – “Pat Benatar meets “Billie Jean” in a Basement – Invincible Rocks the ‘80s”
“… it WAS AWESOME!! I laughed till my belly ached. Go see it before it's too late!!”
Kris Nicholas - Goldstar Review
“To all of us PAT BENATAR fans far and wide, WE BELONG at this show! Saw it last night – campy, hilarious FUN.”
Xaque Gruber, Venice Magazine
“What a crazy night! Lots of fun.”
“The show was so fricken funny – loved IT!!!! Fair is Fair!”
Kris Nicholas – Facebook Review
“I saw the show last night and it was awesome!!!! If you can go, you must. The story is hilarious and the songs are great! Can’t recommend it enough.”
Bradley Jacobson – Facebook Review
“Outrageous… Very camp & fun.”
Alan Trevor - Goldstar Review
“… I was particularly impressed with how successful they were in integrating the PAT BENATAR songs into the storyline. ..I would recommend this musical for its originality and great acting.”
Todd - Goldstar Review
“This show was so awesome! I want to see it again!”
Tris Beezley – Facebook Review
“The show was hilarious! Loved it!”
Maile Flanagan – Facebook Review