BY SANDY STAGGS
Clemson Little Theatre dives into the joys and pitfalls of having, rearing and nurturing in today’s hectic digital landscape in its brand new musical “Rated P for Parenthood,” a sweet, sometimes crass, but always sardonically truthful, exploration of parenting from birth to marriage.
In a series of some 26 vignettes, sketches, and musical selections, four actors traverse 20-something years of parenthood ala SNL-style from bribing a spouse to feed their baby in the middle of the night to having the “talk.” Well, there are several talks, or rather avoidance of confrontations, with their youngsters in those uncomfortable, events that every parent abhors: the birds and the bees, condoms, the monthly visitor, doing “push-ups,” and even a magical number somewhere between 68 and 70.
The fun lies in the various and often-conflicting methods the husbands, wives, partners and single parents employ in these situations.
Mindy McCarthy (who celebrated her birthday last night. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MINDY!), Auobry Sears, Matthew Hartman, and Eric Nierman play multiple, multiple charcters (I lost track early on because some of them are voiceovers) and demonstrate astute skill and range with varying accents, voices and personas throughout this fast-moving show helmed by Dave DiGeronimo in his directorial debut.
The production is enhanced with cascading, colorful backlit panels and a hearty, well-executed video design (the phone text sessions are priceless and add resonance to the audio voiceover) that guides us into the many scene transitions with visuals and supertitles.
“Rated P for Parenthood” was an Off-Broadway hit with book and lyrics by Sandy Rustin and music and lyrics by Dan Lipton & David Rossmer. Though most of the songs are generic and forgettable, the comedic angles the songwriters pursue are often fresh, poignant, timely and…well, often not for the kids.
This show is made for parents, so the rating is not G. One hilarious number hilariously sung like a 1980s power balled by the multi-faceted Hartman probably mines those depths the deepest, though I did laugh uncontrollably throughout “I’m Gonna Get Me Some Tonight” as the parents engage in some vocal foreplay on their car ride to drop off the kids at summer camp. Two whole weeks with no kids could rejuvenate a marriage.
A couple of the writers’ gags landed softly but this sparkling show has a compendium of high marks such as the fellas in an incredible rap song about their anxiety before a Parent Teacher Conference (BRAVO!), and the ladies as soccer moms singing about their lust for their kids’ hot soccer coach (Nierman), who stretches, preens, flexes and entices them replete with a rip-away Velcro track suit.
Julie Florin is music director and conducts the live band than includes Joe Wehunt on guitar and Josef Wehunt on drums. Jim Harriss is producer, costumes are by Carol Helander, Michael Cherry is choreographer, lighting by Richard Cowan and Wayne Madison, scenic design by DiGeronimo, and Sharon Barnette is stage manager.
“Rated P for Parenthood” continues Sunday, May 12 @ 3 p.m. at the Clemson-Pendleton Playhouse, 245 S. Mechanic St. in Pendleton. Call (864) 646-8100 or visit http://www.clemsonlittletheatre.com.