Walmartopia is the bargain basement of musicals: everything’s stuffed into it from musical genres spanning the last 60 years to anti-war messages that are just too contemporary. In aisle one you’ll find issues about women and minorities: in aisle 2 you can have your pick of lesbianism or cross-dressing: aisle 3, products from China: a few aisles away fire arms and fascism. Sprinkled all over is “the American Dream”. You get the point.
As I’m not about to steer you to WALMARTOPIA anymore than I’d steer you to a Walmart store, I might as well give it away to you free of charge.
The grueling tale begins when the underpaid, disenfranchised Walmart workers attempt to start a union, resulting in the disgruntled employees being detained in a “prison-mart”. The only way out they see is to lend a hand to the Walmart musical, the great big propaganda stunt that will allow the superstore to take over the independent nation of Vermont, the only territory they don’t currently control — at least in this frenetic epic.
This is the year 2037 and the company’s founder Sam Walton has been revived as a disembodied talking head, kind of like a Saddam impersonator, still voicing the tyrannical Walmart message. More importantly, the musical within the musical is a pro-war, flag-waving production in which the workers themselves are trapped. Just the way you feel sitting in the audience.
The one blue light special in the evening’s entertainment are its actors, most of whom play multiple roles. The most surprising in that regard is Brennen Leath who, appearing first as a wimpy brown-nosing store clerk, morphs into a rifle strutting he-man.
Stephen De Rosa who appears originally as Dr. Normal, the mad scientist responsible for reviving Sam Walton’s head, is entirely over the top. This Dr. Strangelove can do a farcical Peter Allen imitation singing and dancing in a Hawaiian shirt and cucarachas. Later as Otis, a Vermont peasant, he is unrecognizably forlorn.
Satire? Comedy? You won’t find it on the stage of WALMARTOPIA.
By Isa Goldberg
Tickets are priced at $65 & $45, and may be purchased by calling the Minetta Lane Theatre Box Office: (212) 307-4100.