Review: ‘Corn’

The Ridiculous Theatrical Company's revival of the musical "Corn" is rough and clunky, but that is part of the down-home, moonshine-and-square-dance appeal of this lightweight hillbilly spoof. The story is simple, the songs pleasant. On occasion, the energetic comings and goings give way to slow stretches, but before long a song is being sung or the cast has thrown itself into some lively comic business. First presented in 1972 (and previously revived in 1978), "Corn" tells the story of country singing star Lola Lola (Lisa Herbold), who returns to her hometown of Hicksville, Tenn., in order to get in touch with her country roots, and also to show off to her former neighbors what a big star she has become. Once there, she tells her manager, the college-educated city slicker Dude Greasman (Lenys Sama), that she wants to give a free concert for the locals.

Plans for the concert get Lola and Dude embroiled in the notorious feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. They need the families’ cornfields for the concert. It gives little away to report that Lola and Dude end the feud, stage the concert and discover the dark secret of Lola’s birth.

Slapstick is executed with precision, bad jokes and corny puns elicit the expected groans. Still, it’s hard to understand why director Everett Quinton lets the pace slacken so often. The problem might be in the lapses in the late Charles Ludlum’s script; “Corn” is not one of Ludlum’s major works and if he were alive he might have done some polishing.

Always there to give the show a lift is the lighthearted country score by Virgil Young and appropriately ragtag sets and costumes. Herbold, as Lola Lola, and Randy Lake, as Ruben Hatfield, exhibit particular skill handling their songs. Eureka is strong as the leader of the McCoy clan, especially in her confrontations with Quinton (who looks more and more like Hume Cronyn with each passing year) in the role of Paw Hatfield.

Corn

NEW YORK

Production

A Ridiculous Theater Company presentation of a musical in two acts, with book by Charles Ludlum, music and lyrics by Virgil Young, additional music by Lance Cruz and Mary Rodriguez. Directed by Everett Quinton. Sets, Gary Hayes

Creative

Costumes, Romona Ponce; lighting, Richard Currie; musical direction, Cruz; stage manager, Cory Lippiello. Opened April 15, 1997, at Chelsea Playhouse. Reviewed April 22; 99 seats; $30 top. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast

Cast: Eureka (Maw McCoy), Lisa Herbold (Lola Lola), Christa Kirby (Rachel McCoy), Randy Lake (Ruben Hatfield), Stephen Pell (Aunt Priscilla), Everett Quinton (Paw Hatfield), Lenys Sama (Dude Greasman), Jimmy Szczepanek (Melanie McCoy), Charles Schroeder (Moe Hatfield).
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