Jim Geoghan, a prolific TV and legit scripter, has crafted a mildly clever but predictable take on some melodious cave folk in “Ug, the Caveman Musical.” Geoghan’s simplistic plot, helmer Jerry Kernion’s awkward staging and Terry J. Barto’s arbitrary choreography hamper a talented ensemble that acquits itself quite well.
Geoghan (“Beehive”) imagines a post-apocalyptic future in which humans have reverted to prehistoric survival mode, only with hipper dialogue. After the local tribe revels in the discovery that meat thrown onto a fire tastes better than raw (“These Are Incredible Times”), tribal leader Ug (Danny Blaylock) awes them by “acting out” rather than merely “telling” his story of a dangerous boar hunt, and live theater is born (“Where I’ve Never Gone Before,” “Famous”).
Every lame “let’s put on a show” cliche is integrated into the tuner as the tribe begins rehearsals of “Ug and the Boar” for an upcoming visit by a neighboring tribe. Of course, creative differences erupt among playwright Ug, director Arg (David Barnathan) and the tribe’s gay cook-turned-costumer Bob (Kevin Fabian).
Meanwhile, Ug’s faithful lady love Bandala (Michelle Maves) is maneuvered out of the lead role by the casting couch antics of tribe hottie Tatata (Devin Sidell), who seduces Ug with a sultry “What Can You Do for Me?” Once cast, Tatata proceeds to take over the show, highlighted by a Busby Berkeley-esque production number, “I’m a Boar.”
Looking past the throwaway plot, there are some worthy moments, enhanced by the catchy tunes of the late TV composer Rick Rhodes. Barnathan’s Arg offers an impressive song-and-dance turn as he yearns for his chance to woo Tatata (“She’s Finally Run Out of Guys”).
Blaylock and Maves are quite harmonious with the soft rock ballads “Tingle” and “As If I Care.” However, the highlight of the show is the driving boogie showstopper “King Neanderthal,” performed with Louis Prima-like abandon by rival tribal chieftain Oolooki (Thom Babbes).
Kernion’s staging often appears improvised, with cast members nearly bumping into one another during exits and entrances. This lack of finesse can be attributed in part to the production’s clunky set pieces, designed by committee.
Barto’s cabaret revue-esque choreography has little to do with the thematic flow of the show, while Louis Durra’s imaginative pre-recorded orchestrations provide needed veracity to the musical numbers.