The 3rd Floor: The Musical!
The 3rd Floor at the Miracle Theatre
through August 24

The showtune is a weird phenomenon, perhaps one of the weirdest in all of theater, and for that reason I was really excited for The 3rd Floor: The Musical! I love showtunes anyway (sorry, but I do), and I'm already a big fan of The 3rd Floor, a sketch comedy group known for their bizarre and hilarious skits and plays. I suspected that with such a strange thing as the showtune as the base for their inspiration, The 3rd Floor would be able to come up with some material that, at the very least, was extremely off-the-wall.

My suspicions turned out to be spot-on. Musical features ideas that, in terms of sheer weirdness, easily surpass everything else that I have seen The 3rd Floor do. In one skit, a man (Rance Rizzutto) tries desperately to fix his sink himself so he won't have to call his landlord. When his wife finally calls him herself, we realize why the man was so reticent: his landlord (Kevin-Michael Moore) is a liege from medieval times who seems to possess magical powers. When the couple won't do his bidding, he summons a leather-clad Jordanna Barnes, who performs a sort of techno song with him about defending their land, then kicks the tenants' ass in the slow motion, wall-bouncing style that has been made ubiquitous by The Matrix.

The skit represents sketch comedy at its most absurd, but at this show it is merely par for the course. Another skit tells the tale of two hicks who travel around earth gathering random objects because Father Time needs them to get his powers back, and another skit portrays hard-working drywallers singing a song about a world where people don't have hands. In such a world, the drywallers would of course feel more secure with their own injuries that have been sustained on the job.

All the skits have the requisite songs that make this show's title valid. The songs are generally terrible, but in that campy way that makes other terrible-funny songwriters like Adam Sandler kind of amusing. They are also performed with great gusto by the cast, which is clearly having the time of its life. All the core 3rd Floor members are represented here: Ted Douglass, Andy Buzan, Barnes, Michael-Moore, and they all do their usual fine work.

Despite all its high points, Musical still ultimately doesn't quite work. It is way too long, for starters--almost two-and-a-half hours--and as a result feels slightly bloated and underdeveloped; quantity over quality. The skit with the hicks and Father Time keeps reoccurring throughout the evening, promising an impending sense of closure that is never fulfilled, and the bits in between the real skits where individual cast members strut their own personal comedic stuff are completely lame and self-indulgent.

The show also just doesn't feel like a musical. It just feels like sketch comedy with a few funny songs here and there. This is not The 3rd Floor's fault, it's simply the inherent nature of sketch comedy. Showtunes are intoxicating when they exist in a carefully developed context; a world. This is why good musicals are cool and even the best revues suck. Sketch comedy is like a revue. It's just a series of random scenes that don't add up to a cohesive whole. That's not a bad thing, but it's also not a musical. I like musicals. JUSTIN SANDERS