Friday, August 14, 2020

281. KABOOM! From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


Bernice Massi, James Donohue.

KABOOM! [Musical/Politics/Youth] B/LY: Ira Wallach; M: Doris Schwerin; D/CH: Don Price; S: Peter Harvey; C: Lohr Wilson; L: Timothy Harris; P: Joseph Rhodes, Alice Schuman; T: Bottom Line Theatre (OB); 5/1/74 (1)

Critical nausea turned this Off-Broadway offering into yet another one-performance reject of the early 70s. The satirical little show was about Grisdale (James Donahue), a conniving go-getter who can’t achieve his goal of being a supermarket checkout clerk because he lacks a high school diploma. He gets into several scrapes, including stowing away on a spaceship and, then, when it’s in trouble, guiding it safely back to earth. The First Lady (Bernice Massi) becomes one of his several mistresses, and the President (Charles Hudson) congratulates him and allows him to realize his life’s ambition in the supermarket.

Kaboom! was described by Howard Thompson as “A dull, vulgar little musical” with a “leaden” book and a score only “a little bit better.” It was “ferociously dull,” claimed Douglas Watt, and possessed of an “unfunny book, . . . awkward lyrics, . . . a commonplace score . . . [and] blunt and obvious humor.” To Richard Watts, this was “one of the season’s modest little disasters.”