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July 11, 2014
NYMF Review: Cloned!
Foreground: Alex Goley (Wally), Background: Eric Mann (Clone Wally). Photo: Andrew Barry Fritz (BarryMoore Photography).

Among the many very nice things about Cloned!, the backyard-ish little musical now playing at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, is that your lack of a date for the evening is unimportant. What matters pairing, after all, in a world where multiplicity goes mad?

The story is simple and silly, a perfect base for madcap musical comedy. It is 1993 -- we know this mainly because of the big mobile phones -- and Wally Waterman is boyishly sure that his creation of a teleportation machine will be a reality by lunch and clinch his supremacy at an upcoming physics gala. He is supported ably by Izzy, the gal who adores him unsuccessfully, and maybe by his secretive mentor, Dr. Marshall. Somewhat less supportive are his bird, Tremell, the stoner roommate Fizz, the bizarre upstairs neighbor Evelyn, the hateful landlord Mr. Choi, and Sharon Stone -- though Ms. Stone does become a great asset in Act II, and the others do tend to help unwittingly, if only by virtue of bumping into one another a lot. It goes without saying that the machine does not function as planned, and there are soon plenty of others with whom to collide.

Never mind. Know this well: Cloned! is exuberant and charming, with the dashes of wit you are thrilled by when a fresh-faced kid suddenly reveals unexpected cleverness. Adam Spiegel's music is largely pastiche, evoking carnival rag, seductive tango, and the ballad-of-unrequited-longing, but it is nonetheless all genuine in its good fun agenda, and Dan Wolpow's lyrics are a heavenly fit -- hats off to rhyming Dom Pérignon with clone, no fooling.The book by Jacey Powers and Mr. Wolpow works as librettos do in Broadway dreams: seamlessly. Alex Goley as Wally (or one of 'em) hooks you in but good from his first bars of a narcissistic Mr. Rogers-like opening, and it is no slight to a wholly excellent cast to single out the marvelous restraint in Crystal Kellogg's Sharon Stone and Matthew Knowland's failure to be annoying as the stoner buddy; these are striking achievements. Beyond anything else, there is that irreplaceable sense -- so absent in big-time B'way offerings -- that the energy is authentic and that, God be praised, the performers are having a hell of a time.

Cloned! More, please.

Cloned! is a part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which continues through July 27. 

Through July 19 at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre.

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Written by: Jack Mauro
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