REVIEW: LUDO’s Broken Bride

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Concept, Music & Lyrics by LUDO

Adapted by Stacey Weingarten

Arrangements & Additional Story by Dana Levinson

Choreography by Steven Paul Blandino

Directed by Stacey Weingarten & Donna Drake

 

THE VERDICT:

When you watch a cheesy action movie (say, from the 80’s), do you care about the finer details of the plot points? If yes: You might be missing the forest for the trees, but hey, you do you. If no: Come check out “LUDO’S Broken Bride,” a delirious, brilliantly weird and wry rock musical. Ok, here we go: Tom is a physicist who travels back in time to keep his wife from being killed. But he misses and goes to prehistoric times. At which point he befriends a strange, growling mammal he names Hawking, while reminiscing about how he fell in love with said wife, and now we’re at a memory flashback frat party, and I think we’re sort of in a 80’s rom com? And that’s the first 15 minutes or so.

Needless to say, “LUDO’s Broken Bride” is (and I use this word lovingly) totally wacked out.  LUDO, if you don’t know them, are an alt rock band from St. Louis, who clearly have a manic yet soulful style. The music is catchy, driving, and totally irreverent. It has a feel of an extended music video, back in the days where some music videos were almost short stories tailored to a band’s whims. If you step back and look at “Broken Bride” as a Serious Musical, there are definitely problems–mostly that most dramatic plot points feel arbitrary, and the flipping back and forth between timelines gets tangled up here and there. But it has more of an opinion on what’s really riding underneath a storybook, cheesy rom-com love story–and is much more introspective than you might take it for on first glance. And it’s a fun enough ride that I was rocking out regardless.

 

Here’s your point-by-point on what stood out:

  • Prehistoric puppets! Dynamically engineered by Sierra Schoening, the puppetry replicates something you’d expect to see in an 80’s dinosaur movie. Particular props to Brendan Malafronte, who puppeteers a particularly human prehistoric dog-thing named Hawking (and does some very funny clowning work). What a charming little growler.
  • Action-adventure-inspired projection design  by Pauline Lu. a gigantic projection screen with concert-style animated backdrops bring some rock-star-quality to the staging.
  • Song situations are often near-nonsensical, but the accomplished choreography not only keeps up but surprises with genre-bending accuracy and style. I adore the ballet sequences right next to the fresh-out-of-a-Disney-movie villainous dance numbers. (Are those… zombie hyenas?!)
  • Props are due to an hyperactively fun ensemble full of versatile, joyous dancers.
  • Further Props to the two actors (chronological order: Michael Jayne Walker and Carson Higgins) who play young and old version of Tom, who are genuinely charming and quite a heart for the show. (On a more meta note, lovely to see a lovestruck follow-her-to-the-ends-o’-the-earth guy who doesn’t play into the creepy stereotypes typically seen in the genre.)
  • Tom’s wife–the titular Broken Bride–is performed with grace by a grounded Gabrielle McClinton.

 

WHAT IT’LL GET NOMINATED FOR:

  • OUTSTANDING SCENIC DESIGN.
  • OUTSTANDING MUSIC.
  • OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY.
  • OUTSTANDING ACTOR: For Carson Higgins.

 

WHERE IT’LL GO:

I can totally imagine “Ludo’s Broken Bride” running in a hip joint somewhere–maybe a concert hall, or a tour, rock style. I think the show is already exactly what it desires to be–sure, you could tune up some of the plot, make the throughline a little clearer, maybe expand the set. But kudos for the self assurance–wonderful to see a mid-development work at NYMF so sure of itself already. Rock on.

For more information, visit: http://www.nymf.org/festival/2016-events/ludos-broken-bride/

 

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