Hailing from New York City, “Broadway’s Next Hit Musical,” an unscripted theatrical awards show whose cast consists of master improvisers, kept a full house at Howard Auditorium in a laughing stupor on Nov. 29.
The cast consisted of Deb Rabbai, Rob Schiffmann, Matt Giroveanu and Robert Z Grant with Robb Coles emceeing. Audience members were asked to write a fake hit song suggestion on a piece of paper at the entrance that would become a scene in a fake musical, made up by the member on stage. Audience suggestions were placed a glass bowl where there was a chance for it to be read out loud and incorporated into their performances.
“Rosco the Redneck Reindeer,’” “Betcha if I Letcha,” “That Smell coming from the Garden Isn’t Roses” and “Brown Bees Abuzzin” battled for the opportunity to have their entire respective musicals performed on stage. ‘Brown Bees Abuzzin,’ performed by Giroveanu and from the fake musical “Apocalypse how?” eventually won the Phony Award through crowd cheers and was performed in its entirety, with the rest of the cast placed in support roles.
‘Apocalypse How?’ told the story of a 117-year-old professor on the verge of being fired, played by Giroveanu, it warns the world just in time about the huge impending swarm of brown bees that would bring the end of humanity. Luckily, one of his students, played by Grant, goes to the Magical Jelly Bean Forest in Africa that houses a mythical race and comes back with jelly beans that save the world.
Rabbai, who also played a student and a bee in the final show, says coming to ABAC is beneficial because of the “opportunity to bring our brand of comedy and musical improvisation all over the country.” Travelling is also personally beneficial to the cast because it allows them to “flex to whatever town we go to by having our host create material that’s specific to that town – kind of reflecting back to them, like some humorous things about the town itself,” said Rabbai.
Rabbai ended with, “it’s aspirational too, showing people who are in smaller towns that don’t really have the opportunity to see musical improvisation or don’t have the chance to come to New York City and see what’s happening; this is our way of bringing it to small areas.”