"You'll laugh. You'll hum. You'll believe a jet can fly!" With that tagline, Top Gun! The Musical arrived in Texas, where the Canadian musical satire plays Theatre LaB Houston through Dec. 14.
A musical within a musical, Top Gun! is framed by the story of hapless writer Billy Palmer, whose last two shows, Apocalypse Wow! and a failed "homage" to Hamlet, were huge flops. His last hope is his new work based on Tom Cruise's 1986 flick about a pilot's quest to be number one flyer in the Navy, featuring such catchy ditties as "We've Got a Plane to Catch" and a Les Miserables-style duet shared by Maverick and his now female, doomed co-pilot, Goose.
Palmer's producer, the General, thinks the musical is prime American propaganda. His assistant Wendy would just like to date him. And the guy he's cast as Iceman (played by Val Kilmer in the movie) is desperate to illuminate the gay subtext between his character and the hunky stud cast as Maverick. The musical not only sends up the idea of every popular film becoming a musical, but also aims barbs at theatre professionals, the military and homophobia with numbers like "Don't Quit Your Day Job" and "You Can Ride My Tail."
Denis McGrath penned the book and lyrics with music by Scott White. Top Gun! The Musical is McGrath's first musical — he is a television and Fringe show writer (Shooter, Just a Second). White is also a performer and musical director.
Cameron Aiken is the writer Billy Palmer with Jonathan McVay as the dumb-as-dirt, but beautiful Maverick and Carolyn Johnson as the aging diva hired to play Maverick's love interest, Charlie. Also in the cast are Laura Chapman (Wendy), Valerie McCann (Goose), Greg Gorden (Iceman) and Jimmy Philips (The General). Ed Muth directs. Steven Jones is the musical director.
Tickets are $22. Theatre LaB Houston is located at 1706 Alamo. For reservations, call (713) 868-7516. Top Gun! The Musical is on the web at http://www.topgunthemusical.com.
— By Christine Ehren