Entertainment :: Music

The Last Smoker in America - Original Cast Recording

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Monday Jul 15, 2013
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A new musical from the creators of "Side Show" and "Adrift in Macao" takes off the filters in this comedic, sci-fi examination of smoking in, "The Last Smoker in America." Originally produced at the New York Musical Theater Festival in 2009, the show went on to have successful runs in Cleveland and at the Westside Theatre in N.Y.C., and is now available for licensing through the Samuel French Organization. This recording will provide a strong promotional piece for interested producing organizations.

The story centers around a dysfunctional family struggling with its addictions, but only housewife Pam’s (Farah Alvin) is illegal, making her the "butt" of the home’s concerns. Pam’s husband, Ernie (John Bolton), yearns to relive his younger, rock and roll days, while son Jimmy (Jake Boyd) is immersed in a smoke of race misidentification, thinking that he is a "gangsta" from the ’hood. Further conflict arrives in the form of nosy-neighbor Phyllis (Natalie Venetia Belcon), who toggles between her genuine friendship with Pam and her responsibility to the neighborhood’s anti-smoking, religious group. The four talented actors take on the musical at a break-neck pace; one moment explaining to us their personal feelings, the next instant, singing backup for a cast mate. Belcon takes control of the gospel-style tunes included in the score, switching effortlessly between the quasi-cutesy, fake supporter and the arm-twisting attitude that she utilized so well when she originated the role of Gary Coleman in the award-winning, "Avenue Q."

The lyrics by Bill Russell ("Side Show," "Elegies, Queens and Raging Punks") never hold back, from "If It Feels This Good," where Phyllis and Ernie have an overly aggressive tryst, to the hilariously clever, "I Wanna Call You," a perfect cabaret song for the frustrated partner. The title song acts as a homage to the "Little Shop Of Horrors"-style of cautionary story, with the finale performed by the quartet in a "concert" format, which should lead to the applause of audiences from all over as they enjoy this economic, yet entertaining musical.

"The Last Smoker in America (Original Cast Recording)"
Bill Russell / Peter Melnick
CD and digital formats
YellowSound Label

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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