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May 3, 2023, 16:06
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Through May 13
KRAGTAR! The American Monster Musical Alleyway Theatre

By Augustine Warner

Literature is often a tale of good and evil and their conflict.
Of course, the wider society can pick and choose which side they are on and what determines “good” and “evil.”
That has changed over time, as the nation tears itself apart over issues many are concerned about and issues that only a few demagogues believe are important.
If we can see open warfare in some schools over Michelangelo’s statue of David, the idea of “western culture” is clearly in trouble.
Sam French and Kyle Wilson’s musical “Kragtar! The American Monster Musical,” is a wonderfully done look at good and evil and current American issues and demagogues.
It’s a tangled tale, opening with a well-known public scientist leading a campaign to find and kill a monster.
Harry Fine (Anthony Lazzaro) is leading a team, backed by teaching assistant Trisch (Amanda Funicello), to find and kill that evil.
He reconnects with another scientist, Harvey Finkler (Justin Gaskill), another monster expert.
Once, they were an item until Harvey tried to escape himself and wound up married and teaching Sunday school and being counseled to be straight.
It’s whom he married which triggers the politics of the show, surrounded by fine choreography and dancing from Kevin Leary, across a very workable and effective set from Lara Berich.
Once the monster is killed, the clash turns into a struggle between the restored team of Harry and Harvey and Harvey’s wife, Beatrice Eden Finkler (Amy Jakiel), called Beard.
She uses her hates and gaming the public to wind up president and crusade against gays, backed by the majority in Congress.
That’s the “Congress Rag.”
It’s a wonderful performance from Jakiel, in furtherance of dreadful goals, along with Nicholas Lama as the Speaker and Matthew Rittler as Congressman Sullivan.
The MacGuffin is that good and evil premise.
Since this is a new show, I’m going to skip most of how “Kragtar” winds up.
There’s more than a little self-awareness in this show, with songs like “HBO Protagonist” from Harry and the cast and then a reprise with Harry and Harvey.
There’s also Harvey and Harry and the cast, with “Two Gay Scientists” and the president with “Family Values.”
French and Wilson have packed way too much into the show, but director Chris J. Handley has done a lot with the material and a well-drilled cast.
Yes, there are monsters around us and some can be found in “Kragtar! The American Monster Musical.”

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