Kreated by Bob and Tobly McSmith
Directed by John Duff
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that the Kardashians have cemented their place in the pop iconography of our time. Famous for being famous, the internet-breaking first family of reality TV represents both the worst and the best of who we are as a culture. The intelligentsia bemoans the fact that a once-credible news media is now dominated by headlines like “Caitlyn Jenner in Malibu as she fails to wish Khloe Kardashian a happy birthday (Daily Mail, June 28, 2016). But there’s positive flipside to the American obsession with the rich and famous. Celebrities – even the ones who have achieved notoriety without exhibiting any special talent or drive – are dear to us for a reason. People like Kim, Kris and Khloe are proof positive that, with a little luck, anybody – no, seriously, anybody – can make it in America.
With this duality in mind, the latest “kreation” from the mischievous minds of Bob and Tobly McSmith both ruthlessly mocks the Kardashian phenomenon and wallows in the sheer wonderful tackiness of it all. Sporting outfits reminiscent of a burlesque edition of CATS an energetic kast sings, dances, twerks and chatters its way through a musical retelling of the exploits of Kim Katdashian (Carmen Mendoza) and her clan. Kim is known mostly as the daughter of one of O.J. Simpson’s attorneys until she makes a sex tape that catapults her to stardom in her own right. Seeking to capitalize on Kim’s success, Kris Katdasashian (Bailey Nolan) becomes the “momager” to Kim and her sisters: vacant Kourtney (Bridget Kennedy), and sex-obsessed Khloe (Elliott Brooks). Their reality show proves immensely popular, with ratings bait provided by the motley assortment of men in their lives. Kris’s husband, gold medalist Bruce Jenner, (Peter Smith) seems perpetually discontented (until of course, he undergoes his transformation into Catlyn). Khloe’s husband Lamar (represented onstage by a basketball), has a penchant for partying, while Kourtney’s boyfriend Scott (played by a hand puppet) is usually AWOL. Kim marries Katye West (who unfortunately remains offstage) and becomes a robotic automaton under his commanding influence. Rounding out the menagerie are little brother Rob Katdashian (Tobly McSmith), and conniving half-siblings Kylie and Kendal Jenner (Viva Soudan and Ariel Ash).
Thanks to some clever writing and an ensemble of gifted mimics, the lampoon lands much more effectively than SNL’s shots at the same broad target. There are a few inside jokes that only hardcore fans will appreciate, but even those of us who haven’t kept up with the Kardashians will get most of the japes. Over the course of two largely plotless acts, though, the evening’s sketch-like concept gets stretched rather thin. The material would be better served at a trimmer length and without an intermission. Even so, John Duff’s molto allegro directorial style and, Bailey Nolan’s booty-enhancing kostumes and Viva Soudan’s sexy Khoreography help keep the energy high. Assaf Gleizner’s arrangements of re-imagined pop and Broadway hits adds extra zest to the parody.
KATDASHIANS! BREAK THE MUSICAL! kontinues through July 30, 2016 at Elektra Theater, 300 West 43rd Street (and 8th Avenue), Time Square, NYC.