AISLE SAY Philadelphia


Music by Jed Feuer
Book and Lyrics by Boyd Graham
Vocal and Musical Direction by Jim Ryan
Directed by Richard M. Parison, Jr.
Act II Playhouse, 56 Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA 19002
Box Office: (215) 654-0200
Website: or E-mail:

Reviewed by Claudia Perry

Think of the History of the World on crack. Think of the worst possible idea for a musical. Think of two musical comedy geeks putting on a Backer's Audition in someone's borrowed New York apartment and you've got, "The Big Bang". With music by Jed Feuer and book and lyrics by Boyd Graham "The Big Bang" is an hour and a half of some of the funniest musical revue songs ever sung. You see, Jed and Boyd are trying to mount the most lavish Broadway musical ever written: twelve hours of pure entertainment, shown in four three hour installments, encompassing the entire history of civilization from the dawn of time 'til the present day. We are told that no expense has been spared, as we the prospective backer's are encouraged to invest in this 83.5 million dollar extravaganza.

With the aid of a pianist on a baby grand piano (a wooden façade concealing an electronic keyboard) Tony Braithwaite as Boyd and Ben Dibble as Jed shower us with diverse musical gems such as, "Free Food & Frontal Nudity" - the story of Adam and Eve - sung with only couch pillows covering their unmentionables. Then adorned with white tee shirts pulled over their heads to resemble Egyptian headdresses, they kvetch as two cranky Jewish slaves about the back breaking job of building for the Pharaoh, (Oi, vey!) in "Pyramid". "Nefertiti", the saga of an African diva, is sung by Boyd while reclining on a drink cart, a lamp shade balanced precariously on his/her brow. But honey, don't mess with her! Jed as "Attila", that notorious Hun, sings about his bloody escapades. With a tuxedo jacket thrown over one shoulder and a smoldering cigarette in the other hand, he delivers bon mots in that all time tough guys style á la Sinatra. "Loving Him" Eva Braun's lament about loving the wrong man is done as a torch song. Eva says of Hitler, "Funny, I always thought his first name was Heil". Jed sings out her despair draped in the drapes with part of the fruit bowl on his/her head.

On top of this hilarious material we've got the cleverest direction by Richard Parison, Jr. Like a theater game, everyday objects from the apartment are used in ingenious ways: The drink cart becomes a canoe, a lamp shade becomes a head piece, wooden spoons stick out of Japanese wigs. In one of the most sidesplitting moments, umbrellas are hung from Jed's pants to become panniers for a hoop skirt.

The set design by Bradley Helm and the props by Kristin Gardner work hand in glove to set the heady mood and pace of the show. The set is a posh New York apartment with a glorious view of Manhattan whose furnishings reflect the wealthy and well world traveled owners. To our great delight, almost everything you see on the set is eventually used by the two actors in their wild presentation.

Musically, the styles vary from musical comedy to swing, to Caribbean, to blues, to cabaret, but intrinsically the songs are the same. They are all self-contained revue pieces with one-two punch line endings. And they're all funny. So you can't quibble with that. Done without intermission this seventeen song piece never dulls. The laughter starts at the top and keeps on rolling. Tony Braithwaite, truly adept at ad libbing with the audience, is in his element. And Ben Dibble's boyish earnestness is just so truly goofy - you swear he's someone you actually have met in "the theater". Did I mention that there's audience participation? You get h'ors doevres if you're lucky, a brochure and a fortune cookie (all with the same fortune - Invest now - Opportunity Knocks). If you get the opportunity to see this one it just may knock you out.

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