Bedbugs!!! OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Rex Bonomelli
  • NY TIMES

  • BC

  • THEATRE IS EASY

  • THEATER IN THE NOW

  • TIME OUT

Opening Night:
September 14, 2014
Closing:
November 2, 2014

Theater: ArcLight Theatre / 152 W 71st St, New York, New York, 10023

Synopsis: 

In this girl-meets-bug sci-fi-rock-musical-comedy Bedbugs!!! follows Carly, an exterminator, who is hell-bent on avenging her mother's bedbug-related death. In an effort to permanently rid the city of its infestation, she accidentally mutates the pests into an army of human-size, intelligent, carnal creatures out for blood and world domination.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Bedbugs!!!

    That Itchy Feeling? It May Just Be Love ‘Bedbugs!!!’ the Musical Is at the ArcLight Theater

    Neil Genzlinger

    September 15, 2014: “A theatrical blast of fresh air” might seem an odd way to describe a show in which large quantities of (fake) insecticide are sprayed about the stage, but that’s just the right phrase for “Bedbugs!!!,” at the ArcLight Theater. This audacious rock-’n’-roll concoction about mutant bedbugs that terrorize New York City never stops surprising, with its performances, its choreography, its props and special effects. The subject matter may leave you feeling itchy, but with the delirious sensory overload the show provides, you’ll quickly forget the discomfort. Carly (Grace McLean) has a very personal reason for wanting to develop a pesticide to wipe out bedbugs: They were responsible for the death of her mother (Gretchen Wylder). But the compound she comes up with, instead of killing them, turns them into giant bloodsuckers that feast on humans. The resulting gang, or swarm, or whatever a group of bedbugs is called, is led by a glam god named Cimex, played by Chris Hall with such strident panache that of course Carly is going to fall for him. So far, this probably sounds like every other rock musical about bedbugs and exterminator-insect romance that you’ve ever seen. But Fred Sauter (book and lyrics) and Paul Leschen (music) tossed in a little something extra named Celine Dion. Oops, sorry; that name is actually Dionne Salon, and how she and her tacky divahood figure in the plot is too ridiculous to describe here. The performances by Ms. McLean and Mr. Hall are spectacular, so to say that Brian Charles Rooney’s Dionne steals the show is saying quite a lot.

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  • BLOG CRITICS REVIEW OF Bedbugs!!!

    ‘Bedbugs!!!’ the Musical by Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter

    Jon Sobel

    September 15, 2014: A symphony of camp done just right, the musical Bedbugs!!! marshals over-the-top phantasmagoria in the service of a narrative that makes emotional (though not remotely logical) sense. A well-paced story rests on a foundation of brilliantly arranged songs inspired by ’80s rock and brought to life by electrically funny choreography featuring, among other amusements, an itching sequence. It’s an evening of zany, scary, laugh-out-loud fun. Think Rocky Horror with better music. Think Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. Think Little Shop of Horrors. Think the twisted family dynamics of John Waters movies. Throw in an homage to Fiddler on the Roof‘s dream sequence. Bedbugs!!! merits all its exclamation points. It’s a big spectacle that colors outside the lines but never gets out of control. It does, however, almost spill beyond the confines of the ArcLight Theatre. Director and choreographer Robert Bartley squeezes set and action out of every angle and corner that he can, to the point where the biggest production numbers, like the Act I finale, become almost immersive and an audience member might even miss some of the action.

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  • THEATRE IS EASY REVIEW OF Bedbugs!!!

    This campy eighties throwback is the most fun you can have with bedbugs without having to burn the sheets

    Jan Rosenberg

    September 14, 2014: Bedbugs are making a comeback. Not that they ever really left, but these days it’s impossible to scroll through Facebook without seeing an article about which NYC subway line is the latest victim of a bedbug infestation. So it’s fitting that Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter’s musical has reemerged under Robert Bartley’s direction, after selling out its extended run at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2008, and then again appearing for an off off Broadway run in 2012. Bedbugs!!! sets its psychotically hilarious tone right off the bat. In a flashback, Carly (Grace McLean) is up past her bedtime watching her favorite singer Dionne Salon on TV. Dionne (Brian Charles Rooney) is a world-famous Canadian star, discovered at age thirteen by her manager slash husband Dexter (Danny Bolero), and obsessed by the Power of Love—sound familiar? Entranced with Dionne’s haunting performance, Carly doesn’t hear her mother (Gretchen Wylder) getting attacked by bedbugs in the next room. The attack leads to a freak accident that kills her mother, which stirs in Carly a lifelong sense of guilt and an irrational hatred of bedbugs and Celine Dion, I mean, Dionne Salon.

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  • THEATER IN THE NOW REVIEW OF Bedbugs!!!

    Let These Bedbugs Bite!

    Michael Block

    September 15, 2014: There are many scary things in New York City but the most feared thing this city is faced with: bedbugs. With the magic of timing on their side, New York has been struck with a new outbreak of these tiny, pesty creatures taking over the subways. And now those tiny bugs are taking over musical theater. In the new musical Bedbugs!!!, a scientist on a mission sets out to destroy the population of bedbugs only to accidentally cause a mutation of anamorphic bedbugs eager to take over the world. With a mix of Little Shop and The Toxic Avenger, Bedbugs!!!, with music by Paul Leschen and book and lyrics by Fred Sauter, lives in a hilarious world of Sci Fi musical comedy. The musical follows Carly and Burt as she creates a toxic extermination spray that contains an ingredient that doesn't kill but mutates. Along their journey they encounter a cast of zany characters including an abundance of New York stereotypes, a Canadian pop star, an undersexed bug king, and a legion of bedbugs. Once the mutation has occurred, all hell breaks lose on the city, and the libretto. The story gets crazy as Cimex, the bug king, begins to fall in love with his creator, Carly, forcing her to be his queen. Despite the insane plot line, by presenting it in such a campy manner, it all works cohesively with the rest of the script. For a musical that lives in it’s own imaginary world, the one hang up that could be delved into further is the exact cause of the mutation. The ingredient that causes the train reaction needs a clearer and larger set up, perhaps by Burt, so it's understood that its inclusion is bad for all rather than informing when the moment is right. Leschen’s pop infused score is catchy and fun, rarely relying on a power ballad to win over the audience. However when Leschen does slow down the music, it’s usually given to pop star Dionne Salon which is a hilarious ode to her inspiration.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Bedbugs!!!

    Chris Hall, Brian Charles Rooney, Grace McLean and others bug out in Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter's sci-fi rock musical about deadly critters

    Adam Feldman

    September 26, 2014: Bedbugs!!! just won’t die. First mounted at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2008, then revived in an Off-Off Broadway trial in 2012, Paul Leschen and Fred Sauter’s tenacious critter has now crawled up again for a real Off Broadway run. This engrossingly gross camp-rock musical, which splices DNA from Little Shop of Horrors, The Rocky Horror Show and 1980s light-metal bands, twists B-movie conventions into a pretzel. Carly (McLean) is an exterminator who blames bedbugs for the death of her mother and will stop at nothing to eradicate them from New York, but her mad science winds up creating a race of humanoid superbugs led by Cimex (Hall), who aims to take her as his queen. Can he be stopped? And how does the cheese-loving Quebecois songbird Dionne Salon (Rooney) fit into it all?

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