NYMF Review #2: Judas and Me

My second NYMF pick--Judas and Me--was chosen because I (am very possibly the only person who) actually liked The Wedding Singer. So when I found out the songwriting team was NYMFing a musical about Judas Iscarot featuring Leslie Kritzer as an angel, I jumped.

What I saw was often disappointing, unfortunately. The description above--particularly given the pedigree of the writers--set my expectations for a full-blown Comedy. Because unless it was going to be a deep psychological look at how Judas has been midjudged through history, it has so much potential for comedic moments. And while the show that I saw was light and had a few laughs here and there (50% of which were Kritzer-related) most of the show simply wasn't funny enough to be a comedy. Or at least not laugh-out-loud funny enough.

Consider the premise--Judas's mom wants her son to be the best, so in a Mama Rose style she pushes the shy Judas to become just as good a prophet and messiah as Jesus could ever be. This notion of Judas as Gypsy should be hilarious. But in execution we find Judas's mom to be just as overbearing as Judas find her to be, which rarely leads us to enjoy her lead-character part. And what we (I?) really want to see are more of the clever moments that brought this beyond a simple pageant-show... Jesus turning water into wine via magic tricks, Jesus being very surprised that he's walking on water, Judas and his totally weird love for irrigation. So when the story keeps pulling itself back to Judas's ever-whining mother (and no, not whining in the funny way), all I wanted was for Judas to get on with his stuff. Or for Leslie Kritzer to come back and make more funny.

The one lingering example I have for the misexecution is this:
so at the end of the play, Judas's mother has convinced Judas to turn Jesus in, and for this she is sent to jail on conspiracy charges. Then Judas falls out of the story for the rest of the musical when it's mentioned that nobody's seen him. What? Judas hanged himself, and nobody mentions this in any form? There's a good 4 jokes in there. Yes they may be a little on the side of tasteless, and maybe "a little tasteless" is my specific expectations when you're going to see a comedy about Judas Iscarot. But I also walked in expecting "a little tasteless" from the songwriting team who, in the same show, cleverly rhymed "chalked up" and "knocked up" when I very much didn't see it coming.

The cast is great. The direction is solid and crisp, the costumes are awesome and the songs can be very, very catchy. I don't think the show is without potential... with good rewrites this should be a much better musical than Fat Camp and it is more fit for an off-Broadway production. It's not that the show *has* to be more Judas and Jesus-filled and less Judas' mother-filled, that's just what I presume is the most obvious way to take it to more Funny.

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