Entertainment :: Theatre

I Can Has Cheezeburger The MusicLOL (FringeNYC)

by Ellen Wernecke
Contributor
Monday Aug 24, 2009
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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.

Ellen Wernecke’s work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and The Onion A.V. Club, and she comments on books regularly for WEBR’s "Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine." A Wisconsin native, she now lives in New York City.

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