Deadmouse: the Musical, which plays at the Al Green Theatre through July 11th, 2015 as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival is a heartfelt, creative and jubilant tale of a mouse who wants to be a house DJ.
Joel Zimmermouse, a sheepish and sweet young mouse, dreams of a life as a famous house DJ, but is thwarted along the way by the human music industry’s prejudice against mice. With the encouragement of his friend Cat, who is more confident and assertive than he is, Joel finds himself facing Avicheese, the most famous human house DJ, and having to risk everything he knows for the chance to follow his dream, and perhaps, take one giant step for all mousekind.
The book by Rafe Malach is filled with silliness, but ultimately tells an earnest story of rising above adversity and resisting the urge to change yourself to fit the world, but rather having the courage and the pluck to try to make that world better. The songs by Malach and Adam Jesin are well constructed, contemporary musical theatre songs, most of which are accompanied by some fierce choreography by Kiri-Lyn Muir. The cast is musical theatre bliss with their meticulous dance moves and beautiful singing voices.
Chris Baker makes our protagonist endearing and really grounds him nicely in all the complexities of being a teenager. Sarah Horsman gives Cat a nice mixture of boldness and vulnerability and together they try to guide their sex-crazed friend David (playfully portrayed by Daniel Abrahamson) toward a higher purpose. Adam Jesin’s Avicheese and Jewelle Blackman’s Executive are villains of muppet-caliber silliness and sass.
Director Dale Miller does a great job of transitioning between the larger, musical production numbers (which create the world where mice and humans can talk to one another) and the more intimate scenes between Joel and his friends, to allow his actors to be nuanced in their character development.
There were two things that struck me as possible areas for development in Deadmouse: The Musical. The first concerns campy St. Peter (played with lots of energy by Devin Herbert), who is an absurd and very fun deus ex machina construct, but I think at times his allusions to being raped by God send the musical into dark territory that is incongruous with the rest of the show. Perhaps Malach may want to lighten that aspect of St. Peter up a little bit. Secondly, the concept that the mice are small and the humans are big is a fluid one at the moment, and I think it would be great if, perhaps with a larger budget, there was some sort of immediate visual when a human and a mouse were speaking to one another that captured the sense of proportions that Joel is struggling against. This would also make the moment at the end when David and Executive break through those barriers even funnier. I’m not sure specifically what the solution is, but I think it would be a fun concept for the creative team to brainstorm on.
I think Deadmou5 was much too hasty in his attempt to distance himself from this parody musical, which is fantastic and clever entirely on its own merit, because it could have been good PR for Toronto’s progressive house music performer.
TWISI FRINGE RATING:
Deadmouse: The Musical plays at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:
July 07 at 08:45 PM sold out
July 09 at 09:15 PM buy tickets
July 10 at 04:00 PM buy tickets
July 11 at 12:30 PM buy tickets