5 Reasons Why Shucked is an Amaizingly Good Time
By: Iris Wiener
April 13. 2023: How can a show about corn actually be any good? Shucked is filled to the brim with clever humor and heart, meaning the biggest joke of all is that a show seemingly about a vegetable is actually incredibly funny. Two narrators, Ashley D. Kelley and Grey Henson, tell the tale of the thinly populated Cobb County, a place set apart from the rest of the world due to a wall of corn. When the corn begins to die, Maizy (Caroline Innerbichler) leaves town (and her fiancée, Beau) to find a corn doctor of sorts. A truly bright example of innovative, creative theatre, Shucked is as much fun as it is corny. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Robert Horn’s book shines a light on characters that could quickly have become caricatures in lesser hands. Fleshed out and immediately accessible, the town and its inhabitants are inviting and endearing. The Tootsie Tony winner’s signature voice is heard throughout the show, especially in “Holy Shit,” a revealing, humorous diddy near the end of Act I. The puns abound in Shucked, and one can only imagine the number of them that bounced around during previews.
2. The punniest of them all? Kevin Cahoon as Peanut, Beau’s brother, steals every scene he enters. Whenever he is questioned about a dilemma facing the town or its characters, he instead comes up with a variety of existential, inane observations. “I think people in China must wonder what to call their good plates.” He’s the droll, countrified version of a Dad-joke machine. Grey Hensen’s storyteller is also one for a quip. “It was an unsolved mystery, which in fact are just mysteries,” he says as he sets the stage at the opening of Act I. Listen carefully to he Tony-winners quips, as they’re so dropped so quickly that they are easy to miss.
3. The Greek chorus of characters is truly one of the best on stage. Every townsperson has a shiny role, some more than others, but they all help to facilitate the primary action with great joy and little sense of self. Choreographer Sarah O’Gleby utilizes the stellar ensemble with corn dancing, country hoofing and barrel rolling not to be missed.
4. It is not often that we get country music on the Broadway stage, but the writing team of Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally is proof that there should be a space for more of it. Their fresh songs tear at the deepest of emotions while providing insight in to the hearts of the talented actors who get to sing them. Look for Alex Newell’s big number in Act II, “Independently Owned,” as it continuously brings down the house.
5. Though it first seems smaller-scale for Broadway behemoth Jack O’Brien, the director behind a giant like Hairspray, Shucked is clearly a work of heart, and done to great success. He makes good use of small set pieces and quick changeovers (due to Scott Pask’s sets) to see his characters through Tampa and back to Cobb County. The barren barn serves as the backdrop for a number of locales, all of which see thorough action (and puns galore) under O’Brien’s touch.