Frosty the Snow Manilow

"Frosty" offers more coal than goodies for the audience's stocking.

With:
With: Molly Alvarez, Rick Batalla, Joe Keane, Beth Kennedy, Christine Lakin, Jimmy Lambert, Andy Lopez, Jack McGee, Jill Morrison, Lorin Shapiro, Leah Sprecher, Mike Sulprizio, Lisa Valenzuela, Paul C. Vogt, Peter Alen Vogt, Matt Walker.

The Troubadours’ musical-comedy chops get a typically impressive showcase in “Frosty the Snow Manilow,” melding an irreverent take on the animated Rankin-Bass perennial with the songbook of that guy who claims to write the songs that make the whole world sing. But beyond some confident warbling and Nadine Ellis and Ameenah Kaplan’s athletic choreography, “Frosty” offers more coal than goodies for the audience’s stocking. Simply put, the antics on view at the Falcon just aren’t very funny.

When the right tale meets the right composer, the Troubies are capable of solid gold, as when the travails of the King of Thebes and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll yielded eerie parallels in this summer’s “Oedipus the King, Mama!” But there’s no logical linkup between Frosty and the Manilow oeuvre save the punning title, and helmer-principal writer Matt Walker hasn’t identified any pointed satirical targets in the holiday cartoon.

In the absence of point of view, the show must indulge in variations on Ye Olde Switcheroo, imposing a 180-degree turn on characters and events. So a chipper schoolteacher (Leah Sprecher) is made to announce a self-pitying song about menopause, and a magician’s cheerful bunny (Lorin Shapiro) starts humping everything in sight. (By the fifth or sixth take on this obnoxious bit, one wants to go find Elmer Fudd and announce it’s wabbit season.)

Meanwhile, references to every conceivable current headline are randomly tossed in (Sarah Palin! Tiger Woods! Bill O’Reilly!) as if their mere mention were occasion for screams of laughter. Not so.

Paul C. Vogt’s long runs as Edna in Broadway and Vegas’ “Hairspray” have taught him something about holding an audience engaged while he’s in a fat suit, and he’s mostly droll and restrained in the title role, but a grumpy Lou Grant Frosty (switcheroo!) gets old quickly. Twin brother Peter serves as his doppelganger as well as girlfriend Crystal. Make of that what you will, but they have some of the best moments just sharing the stage and riffing.

Eric Heinly’s combo keeps the joint jumpin’ through a host of Manilow hits.

Frosty the Snow Manilow

Falcon Theater, Burbank, Calif.; 130 seats; $40 top

Production: A Troubadour Theater Company presentation of a musical in one act by the Company. Directed by Matt Walker. Choreography, Nadine Ellis, Ameenah Kaplan. Musical director, Eric Heinly.

Crew: Sets, Sherry Santillano; costumes, Sharon McGunigle; lighting, Christian Epps; sound, Robert Arturo Ramirez; stage manager, Corey Womack. Opened, reviewed Dec. 12, 2009. Runs through Jan. 17, 2010. Running time: 1 HOUR, 40 MIN.

Cast: With: Molly Alvarez, Rick Batalla, Joe Keane, Beth Kennedy, Christine Lakin, Jimmy Lambert, Andy Lopez, Jack McGee, Jill Morrison, Lorin Shapiro, Leah Sprecher, Mike Sulprizio, Lisa Valenzuela, Paul C. Vogt, Peter Alen Vogt, Matt Walker.

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