I Can Has Cheezeburger The MusicLOL (FringeNYC)
First things first: People who don't understand or enjoy LOLcats, the popular online photos of felines with comically misspelled captions, will have no fun at all at I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL. For everyone else, come in! The Internet is waiting.
With punchlines based on Ceiling Cat and the ORLY? Owl, "I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL" belongs to a proud Fringe tradition of shows too wacky or topical to ever make the leap from Off-Off- to Off- -- and they like it that way. While the concept of LOLcats dates back to the halcyon days of 2005, 2008 saw the release of a "I Can Has Cheezburger" book and the introduction of millions of Americans to cat macros.
"I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL" doesn't just draw on these signature images -- it recreates them as charaters while using them as backgrounds, but in doing so pulls far more laughs from its online-addicted audience than last year's Web-to-Fringe adaptation, the Perez Hilton musical. The plot, surprisingly complicated for a show under 90 minutes, concerns a cat named Mr. Whiskers (Seth Grugle) who finds himself falling into the Internet after catching his first whiff of his owner's cheeseburger. In pursuit of his own meat-based treat, he seeks help from a forlorn Lolrus (Vincent DiGeronimo) -- missing his bucket, of course! -- and crosses paths with a cheese-loving Mouse (Carly Zien) before falling into the clutches of Mr. Wrong (Clint Carter). And yes, there is a character whose entire purpose is to peek in and say "Oh really?" a lot while looking vaguely owl-ly.
The show feels loose and a little disorganized, but its catchy songs prove co-creators Kristyn Pomranz and Katherine Steinberg have been studying their Broadway standards: "Winners and Losers" is a saccharine duet between the forces of Epic Win and Epic Fail, while "Lolrus' Lament" takes after "Grease"'s Teen Angel. Channeling Tim Curry as Mr. Wrong, Carter gets the showstopper (and a set of strangely addictive dance steps courtesy of choreographer Erin Stutland) in "Ur Doin It Wrong," an origin story undoubtedly soon to be stolen by the Julie Taymor-U2 "Spider-Man" musical. There's no reason why "I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL" should be as fun as it is, but that's what some people think about the pictures which inspired it -- and the cheeseburgers being served up are not for them anyway.
I Can Has Cheezburger: The MusicLOL runs through Aug. 28 at the New York International Fringe Festival. For tickets and more information, please visit fringenyc.org.