Review: Top Gun! The Musical (Lower Ossington Theatre)

From the Fringe to the Doras, Top Gun! The Musical delivers fabulous comedy and political satire.

I did not remember the plot of 1986 film Top Gun in great detail before going to see Top Gun! The Musical. Nevertheless, I remembered enough of the gist to appreciate the satirical spoof. My companion, a much more avid connoisseur of the film, found this parody hilarious.

The story line is quite meta in that it tells the story of a small theatre troupe trying to mount a production of a musical version of the Top Gun movie. The production is beleaguered with increasing creative and financial problems. As the director’s artistic vision unravels, he becomes increasingly frantic.

The musical was a highly successful Fringe show and has been nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award. The work is very well written. The comedy is a fabulous blend of parody of film intermingled with commentary on the state of the arts and political satire. The choreography was superb and did a fine job of illuminating the humour of the songs. The compositional style is straight forward and well suited to the overall tone and humour of the piece.

The set utilized minimal but effective props. The production made effective use of a couple of tables and chairs and a wheeled piece of plank that served as a fighter jet. The performers may well have dressed themselves out of their own closets, a tactic that can work well in a piece set in modern times.

Adam Sakiyama was a fine accompanist, interpreting the vamp and riff oriented score in a way that greatly enhanced the humour. The performers all demonstrated high proficiency as comedic actors and the basic, schlocky dance steps of the choreography were well executed. The choreography featured some lifts and carries which were both hilarious and impressive. I especially enjoyed Michelle Jedrzejewski’s performance as Wendy, the lovelorn stage manager. Her playfully risqué blues number was especially a treat.

A reading of the artists’ bios indicated that most of the cast comes from straight theatre training, rather than musical theatre training. Unfortunately, this showed in the singing. My companion found the singing to very disappointing and not worth the value of the ticket. Tuning, control and tone issues were abundant. The performers had learned the music accurately and a few performers had moments of distinguishing themselves vocally. On the whole however, the singing was not of the calibre that I would expect in a musical.

That being said the nostalgic humour of the piece and performances won the audience over and a great deal of laugher filled the fairly intimate venue.

– Top Gun! The Musical is playing at Lower Ossington Theatre (100A Ossington Avenue) until June 29, 2012
– Shows run Thursday to Saturday at 8pm
– Tickets are $35.00
– Tickets are available online, or through the box office at 416-915-6747

Photo of Stephen Cullen and Meghan Barron by Iain Laird