Only a Lad
Henry Street Settlement, Harry de Jur Playhouse,
466 Grand Street
Through August 24
Playwright Andrew Loschert's half-baked musical comedy, based on the songs of the '80s band Oingo Boingo, uses 18 tunes to tell the story of Johnny, a rebellious teenager who falls in love with a cheerleader and goes to jail for running down the principal. It's a cute idea, but unfortunately, many of the lyrics don't fit neatly into Loschert's thin plot: For instance, "Little Girls" is inappropriately sung to a grown-up police detective, and the band's memorable hit "Dead Man's Party" is a letdown, featuring Johnny and a few prisoners doing some embarrassingly bad choreography on their knees. As two overhead projectors show the changing scenery on a screen behind a live band, the game 15 cast members, dressed in fun retro outfits, do their best to energize the work, but some much needed camp is sorely lacking. A.A.
Humboldt penguins mate for life, narrator Wendell (the marvelous Steve Hayes, a nicer Paul Lynde with great timing) informs us in Stephen Svoboda's delightful comedy inspired by the same-sex penguin couples at the Bremerhaven and Central Park zoos. The maternally impulsive Roy (John Bixler) is forced into "aversion therapy" re-education to separate him from his mate, Silo (the adorable Brendan Maroney), but triumphs, love intact. Great choreography and zingers flying all around, flamingos prancing as circuit queens, penguins knotting themselves in snowball duels, and Shakespearean plottings and identity obfuscationsit's all happening at the zoo! And with definite breakout potential. J.M.