Vol. 5, Issue 5, September 11, 2007
Transformers Musical Tanks, Then Robots, Then Tanks Again
A new musical based on the popular Transformers franchise has received scathing reviews in a trial run in Toronto, leading producers to close the show for "retooling."
"It's obviously very disappointing," said Michael Bay, who worked on the musical in tandem with the much more successful movie released earlier this year. "I haven't done a musical before, you know. Apparently there's a bit more to it than adding songs between the pyrotechnics."
Critics found the $9 million production a misconceived project from top to bottom, lambasting everything from the kabuki-like costumes to the mishmash of musical numbers, at least one of which was written by Britney Spears.
"Bay had this idea that he could tap into the pop music scene and bring the musical to a whole different audience," sniffed Mary Falgin of the Toronto Star. "I'm sorry, but I just don't think that the artists he selected came up with a unified theme, or any theme actually. It sounds like a top ten list of songs that did poorly on Billboard."
The ballad of Scorponok, played by Poison veteran C.C. DeVille, came in for particular criticism, with Mark Hesperia of the Revue saying "I have never in my life needed bleach for my eardrums more than I did after suffering through that song. I believe it violates the Geneva Convention."
"Hey, I thought it came out pretty good," protested DeVille. "Scorponok is like this really conflicted giant robot. It's all about killing people and smashing things up, but you know, he's wondering, how many people do I kill, and what do I smash? It ain't all roses."
But the biggest mistake cited by critics was the apalling miscasting of Mario Cantone in the lead role of Optimus Prime, the heroic leader of the Autobots. Cantone is best known for his recurring role on Sex and the City and his recent one-man Broadway show Laugh Whore, in which he does a very creditable Liza Minnelli impersonation.
"I felt that a certain gravitas was lacking in his performance," said Falgin, struggling to keep her voice level. "Oh hell: Spongebob Squarepants would have made a better Optimus Prime. I want credit for having sat through the entire production."
Nathan Lane as lead Decepticon Megatron received slightly better reviews, with most critics agreeing that he "at least looks evil, especially when he does that eyebrow thing."
Adding to the show's woes, an average of fifteen audience members have required medical treatment per show from various pyrotechnic malfunctions. In one show, an ambitious cast member sent part of an Autobot's costume flying into the balcony, nearly causing the death of a tourist from Winnipeg.
"Don't put my name in the paper," said Sean Gullin, 13. "Just going to a musical is dorky enough. I don't need to be known as 'that kid who got squashed under Bumblebee's ass' as well."
With the movie poised to rapidly cross the $100 million threshhold, it is widely speculated that Bay will quietly lay aside the musical, never to return to the stage world again.
"It's been an expensive lesson, but not a disaster," mused Bay. "I guess it's a good thing I never got around to doing the musical version of Armageddon."
"Trust me," said Falgin. "This musical as close to the apocalypse as you can come."