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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Tech issues doom ‘Mindy Anna Jones’


    Courtesy of Sean MacArthur / Great American Playhouse

    Jesus Limon as Chang (left), Jennifer Ackerley Lawrence as Mindy Anna Jones with her trusty whip (center) and Brian Paradis as Cade (right) onstage at the Great American Playhouse. Despite Lawrence’s noticeable talent, the play underutilizes her singing and dancing abilities.

    If “Mindy Anna Jones and the Lost Ark of Time” is to be remembered for one accomplishment, it would be for transforming Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love” into a humorous, adorable cover.

    “Mindy Anna Jones and the Lost Ark of Time” is the first parody musical of the season at The Great American Playhouse. Time-traveling villains, two wise Aztecs and an archaeologist hoping to prevent the villains from ruling the universe gleefully break the fourth wall and encourage audience participation.

    While on the hunt for lost Mayan artifacts, three villains from the past meet Mindy Anna Jones (Jennifer Ackerley Lawrence). Jumping through the time-traveling ark, which really looks like a Mayan propane grill, Mindy and her two less-competent fellow adventurers decide to follow the villains back in time.

    Lawrence’s bouncy physicality — reminiscent of a former Disney sitcom star — combines with her undying gusto; they are well-matched features for the ever-in-motion Mindy Anna Jones, the younger, cuter female counterpart to Indiana Jones.

    It is a shame her talent wasn’t put to more use in the choreographed musical numbers. An American Musical and Dramatic Academy graduate, Lawrence should have been given an opportunity to enhance the underwhelming, repetitive dancing choreographed for those without dance experience.

    The musical forces a romantic storyline between Mindy and one of her male companions (Daniel Lopez), and it is unnecessary and unbearably awkward. A strangely dry peck on the lips between Lopez and Lawrence was like watching Corky St. Clair attempt to play a character wooing Libby Mae Brown in “Waiting for Guffman.”

    The villainous threesome is lead by Sean MacArthur as Roman. Dressed in a white suit and Hawaiian undershirt, MacArthur embodies the polished humor of Steve Martin’s early years in show business. He sings “Under Pressure” and “Ice Ice Baby” with his sister, Augusta (Amy DeHaven), and a wannabe gangsta rapper sidekick, which is surprisingly impressive and funny. 

    MacArthur’s talent can’t be overlooked. His commitment to each scene, his powerhouse singing and his masterful craft are thrilling to watch.

    At times, the chemistry between Roman and Augusta seemed to foreshadow a potential relationship, but this never occurred.

    The over-the-top acting and breaking of the fourth wall is expected in parody musicals, but the writing is subpar at best.

    One character attempts to use Queen’s “We Will Rock You” anthem as the ultimate reason why America is superior, prior to the cast singing the song. The problem in this setup is that an English guitarist for a British band wrote the song. If this was intended to mock Americans’ innate sense of self-importance, the humor was lost in delivery.

    The lack of sufficient acoustics makes a mess of the show’s musical aspects. Instead of the performers’ harmony and striking vocals being enhanced, their voices lost luster and impact depending on where they stood on stage. At times, the pianist didn’t seem to accommodate the key changes for the various vocal ranges.

    Those with smaller voices untrained to project stood out when compared to actors with professional vocal training. The microphones used provided inadequate amplification.

    The constant pop-culture-laced jokes, followed by explanations of why they should be funny, soured scenes. Audience members that had missed the joke would have laughed regardless of the overt explanation.

    The Great American Playhouse is still relatively new to the Tucson theater community and is still trying to find a unique perspective and style. The production issues are mostly technical, but this still wouldn’t be the best play to begin anyone’s first theatrical, musical parody experience.

    “Mindy Anna Jones and the Lost Ark of Time” will run until March 21 at The Great American Playhouse.


    Follow Anna Mae Ludlum on Twitter.

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