FringeNYC review: Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical
Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical takes the creative license allotted by the New York Fringe Festival and rolls around in it like a pig in the mud on ecstasy. What begins as a lovingly bizarre homage to the blockbuster novel and film quickly morphs into an incoherent barrage of random humor.
Told from the perspective of Jurassic Park’s genetically engineered dinosaurs (kind of like a Wicked for prehistoric creatures), the formerly extinct grapple with their new sexual organs and urges (kind of like a Spring Awakening for gigantic reptiles) as they transition from female to male. Using notable lines from the movie (“Shooooot haaarrr!”), the production is charming and nostalgic, if not healthily quirky. But soon, writers Emma Barash, Bryce Norbitz, Marshall Pailet, and Stephen Wargo employ a Family Guy mentality that random humor can solely sustain a show. Jurassic Parq feels random for the sake of being random.
The “q” in “Parq” apparently stands for “truth.” The narrator (Lee Seymour) is Morgan Freeman, who can’t decide if he is in fact Freeman or Samuel L. Jackson. Expletives are shouted from out of nowhere (a desperate reach for laughs). And the three major songs of the piece are anything but subtle, such as “Dick Fix.” A smart and successful moment for the music, however, is the final number, “We Are Dinosaurs,” which is set to the film’s famous John Williams score.
With a loose story that is basically a bunch of individual scenes that follow another and characters constantly doing over-the-top things (screaming, raping, roaring), Jurassic Parq becomes so bizarre that it did have its sold-out theater laughing most of the time. Yet the laughter seemed born out of confusion and surprise, rather than genuine delight.
The audacious title of “A Broadway Musical,” insinuating that the production is Broadway bound, is similar to what the creators of [title of show] did while marketing their piece—acted as if it was headed to the Great White Way until it did. This is an incredibly ballsy move, and although it worked for [title of show], no one should use it as a viable transfer method. However, [title of show] had heart and creative writing. Jurassic Parq has neither.
What the show does have going for it is an incredibly energetic and engaging cast. Tara Novie and Natalie Bradshaw are fantastic as bff dinos turned confused lovers. Brandon Espinoza is a physical virtuoso as Mime-asaurus (yep, he doesn’t speak). And although his part is one of the true problems of the play, Lee Seymour performs Morgan Freeman (or is it Samuel L. Jackson?) with hilarious deadpan. Additionally, the cast performs Kyle Mullins’ choreography fantastically, executing the jazz moves with sharpness and spark.
If the creators of Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical have genuine ambitions to bring the show to Broadway (please, let’s just set our goal for off-Broadway, OK?), their chances might not be out of reach. The Jurassic Park brand has a built-in audience, and the creators already play off of nostalgia well. They just need to learn that bravery to do whatever you want on stage cannot be mistaken for creativity.