Zany; music sparklesTech Show; the Musical Theare Guild presents Estate of Mind by Dan Gilly (with David Smith and George Xixis) with Music Direction by Ira Berk; Sala de Puerto Rico, April 11, 12 & 13 at 8pm.
Dan Gilly '85 and Mike Elkins '88 captured all the best moments in Estate of Mind, the 66th Tech Show to be presented at MIT. Appearing at the least likely of junctures to cause a riot, their zany intrusions on a plot of perhaps less than epic proportions were responsible for the loudest of laughs. Running in to act out fantasies from Star Trek, Yogi Bear and Bugs Bunny, among others, and launching at the audience with a polished patter, sharp wit and the wildest of impressions, they captured the show.
This is not, needless to say, to deny that there was a plot. The proceedings take place in "The Spot," an ostensibly illustrious New Jersey health spa (just think of the potential for hot tubs in Hoboken or muesli in Metro Park), hiding the sinister mind control antics of Dr. Walsh and Becky Bigelow. Dr. Walsh (nicely acted by Carl Dashfield '87) has some redeeming features -- he's got latently nerdatistical tendencies and won't pass up on opportunities for Course VI shop talk with his more educated victims -- but Ms. Bigelow is pure nastiness. There are heroes, of course, particularly detectives Steve Carver and Charlie Gladstone, and the inevitable love, which is where Teresa Hope comes in useful.
Anne LaFlamme '88 was Teresa Hope and managed to generate the obligatory sob: Her singing in "No One to Love" might not have been the most technically proficient; but it was touchingly sung to the sympathetic music of Ira Berk G.
Diana Tener '86 was anything but touching as Becky Bigelow: Nicely poised, she's out to get your mind, and several chortles along the way.
Saul Resnikoff '87 did a good job as Steve Carver and was at his strongest in "The Duel," a rhyming competition with Penelope Vanderbilt MacTeacgue. The lyrics by Gilly and music by Berk were quite inspired and made for a comical clash of wits between the Harvard graduated thesaurus-reading Penelope (played with just the right degree of self-righteous pretention by Robyn Bradford) and the brainier but more straightforward Steve Carver (I wonder which school he went to...): You can guess who wins.
Abdon Ruiz '88 slumped in and out as the drunken Lloyd Albright, and the other cast helped mirthfully complete The Spot's possibly less than select clientele.
Tech Show '85 has a funny script with some marvellous lines thanks to the efforts of Gilly, aided and abetted by David Smith '85 and George Xixis '85. The direction by Smith did capture much of the humor, but also allowed the action to become loose at times, and some good jokes lacked in punch: a bit of tightening up would help.
But the music was outstanding: The brightness and vitality of composition held the show together. "I Don't Wanna Travel" and "Estate of Mind" are classics, and the entr'acte which opens Act II sparkles with drive and originality, even if it did borrow from Beethoven's 9th. The Orchestra, under Berk (who also wrote much of the music) was on top form and made an essential contribution to the show's success.
So, if you're after the original recipe of Dan Gilly's patent "Mental Clarifier No. 6.001," go along and be a part of one of MIT's oldest and warmest traditions.