BOTTOM LINE: satirical, endearing, rough
The life of Ms. Spears told as a musical...a brilliant premise that pretty much writes itself. This production feels like a good first attempt, but it needs some cleaning and polishing.
There's nothing I like more than a good celebrity fall from grace, except maybe musical theatre. You can imagine just how excited I was to hear that Becoming Britney was the telling of the Spears saga as a snarky, self-aware musical. This production has a lot of promise and a lot of heart, but unfortunately as a cohesive story it falls short.
The main issue is lack of plot. And since it's the biographical story of a drama the audience already knows, plot should be relatively self-explanatory. At the time the play begins, Spears has just gone bat-shit crazy and shaved her head. From there, the writers take Spears on a "what would happen if" journey and show her voluntarily admitting herself to a rehab facility for moderately talented celebrities; it's a rehab clinic slash PR firm to help with the image boosting. As Spears delves into herself she takes a look back on the past and with the help of the other people in the facility (who may or may not have been figments of her imagination...I'm a little unclear). She comes to terms with her inner goodness and commits to starting anew.
Becoming Britney bills itself as a "snarky musical adventure" and although it doesn't bring any new twists or clever insight into the story of Spears, it does have some priceless moments. Seeing Kevin Federline sing a classical ballad of love to Britney with style and sophistication is a pretty hysterical concept. The looks back to the past with young "Bit-Bit" and her tyrannical mother are also deliciously entertaining (and probably all too true).
With a bunch of musical numbers and some kick-ass popstar-esque choreography, Becoming Britney does what it can to entertain. The cast is having a really good time, and Molly Bell (who also co-wrote the book) is pretty spot-on as Britney. Bell has a great voice (not so much like the title character in real life) and she nails Spears' lovable innocence. Becoming Britney is a fun ride and with a little fine-tuning and plot development it could be a timely and hilarious production. It's a great premise as it stands.
Becoming Britney plays at the Theatres at 45 Bleecker, 45 Bleecker just East of Lafayette. Show times: Tuesday, August 19th at 5:15pm; Saturday, August 23rd at 2:30pm. Check out their diva-tastic website at becomingbritney.com and visit fringenyc.org to purchase tickets.