You may have seen these four performers on stages around town. Jennifer Eckes, Judi Gronseth, Kevin Werner Hohlstein, and Timm Holmly have known each other and worked together for years (we get to learn how they all met through the pop ups during the song "Friendship"). Video screens on either side of the stage display pop ups, as well as images of things related to the song (famous magicians and clowns during "Magic To Do" and "Send in the Clowns," a photo of an actual "Edelweiss"). The cast also holds up signs with pop ups, harkening back to the show's low budget Fringe origins, and these are perhaps the most fun. While someone is pouring their heart out in song, one of their cast members picks up a sign from the big stack on one of the four podiums, and parades it around the stage like Vanna White, facial expression telling all. Signs can also be props - the blue fans of "Sisters," animals for "Circle of Life," and Annie's hair (which gets multiple uses throughout the show).
The pop ups take three forms: fun and interesting trivia about the shows and songs themselves (when it opened, Tonys, stars, backstage gossip), tangential info about a word or idea in the song (we learn that Kleenex is a proprietary eponym during "Suddenly Seymour," and about the invention and cost of champagne during "Hey Big Spender"), and personal info about the cast (Judi was born the year that Sound of Music premiered, Kevin slept on the sidewalk to get tickets to RENT). We learn how many times the words "Tomorrow," "Popular," and "Tonight" are sung in the respective songs (16, 14, and 38!), and some common malapropisms for the opening line of "Circle of Life" ("ingonyama nengw' enamabala," or "penguin mama, penguin has a mama?").
|Timm Holmly, Jennifer Eckes,|
Judi Gronseth, and Kevin Werner Hohlstein
If you, like me, obsessively listen to musical theater cast recordings, define your life in terms of musical theater milestones, and constantly quote showtunes, this is a show for you. Because Jennifer, Judi, Kevin, and Timm love musical theater as much as you and I do. But unlike you and me (well, me anyway), they have the talent to sing and perform these songs and entertain an audience with their non-verbal written-on-signs banter. Pop Up Musical plays in the cozy theater in the basement of a Best Western for just three more weekends, don't miss it! See the Plymouth Playhouse website for more info, and visit Goldstar for discount ticket deals.
This article also appears on Broadway World Minneapolis.