Everything old is new again, or at least it seems that way – these days, most of the TV shows, movies and musicals mine their source material from the past – remakes or “reboots”, with varying degrees of (financial and critical) success; another consistent trend is to reinterpret various Shakespearean plays and set them in modern-day (well, comparatively modern). The Bardy Bunch: The War of the Families Partridge and Brady, written by Stephen Garvey, uses these two well established methods of storytelling and mashes them together, and the end result is a hilarious and inspired production that will please fans of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family as well as devotees of Shakespeare of all varieties.
As mentioned in a previous blog, I’ve been following the journey of this fantastic show (which is ending its spectacular sold out four-week run at the off-Broadway venue Theater at Saint Clement’s tonight) since its initial run at the New York International Fringe Festival three years ago, and its slow (but steady) trek uptown. This revised and expanded version retains the masterful blending of Shakespearean text and recognizable one-liners, and inserts standout musical numbers – the same songs featured in the two aforementioned TV shows – for several of the characters, so that amid the humor and horror, there are moments of poignancy. Essentially, The Bardy Bunch tells the tale of what (might have) happened to the Bradys and Partridges after the end of their respective shows: a tale of star-crossed lovers, vengeful plots and counterplots, and cases of mistaken identity, with a whole lot of singing and dancing (the updated finale features fantastic choreography by Lorna Ventura)
The cast was astounding, many of whom reprised their respective roles from the initial production and continue to shine (among those were Erik Keiser as Keith Partridge, Annie Watkins as Jan Brady, and Cali Elizabeth Moore as Marcia Brady) as well as newcomers who brought their interpretation to their respective roles (among those were Sean McDermott as Mike Brady and Zach Trimmer as Greg Brady). Each actor captured their respective character’s trademark tics and catchphrases with ease, to the amusement of the audience, recognizing something familiar from their upbringing (or in my case, from frequent reruns on TV).
In that previous blog (written almost a year ago), I had stated that I hoped this show would find an off-Broadway venue in the near future, and considering the Theater at Saint Clement’s is located on 9th Avenue and 46th Street, technically speaking, this run was off-Broadway (albeit for a limited run). Hopefully, word of mouth from its nightly sold out performance will garner the attention of Broadway producers (or perhaps non-profit theater organizations) and lead The Bardy Bunch a few avenues east to Broadway.