Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Ruthless! The Musical in the new "Black Box" auditorium in the Phoenix Theatre complex. Ruthless is the premier production in the Black Box, a theatre that seats five hundred, all with good views of the stage. Because the seating runs right down to the performance area, parts of the show pushed up the aisles as cast members brought their musical numbers right out into the audience.
Ruthless is a tongue-in-cheek homage to stage mothers. It is packed with quick and very clever dialogue - and two full acts of great songs, all of which are belted out by cast members who could easily be honor grads of the Ethel Merman School of Musical Comedy. One of the central characters in the production is Tina Denmark, a ruthlessly ambitious third-grader with her eyes set on grabbing the lead in the school play and ultimately conquering Broadway - even if she has to kill to get there. Tina is portrayed by a firecracker of a performer, Riley Glick, who is in actuality a 12-year-old sixth grader. The young lady does an amazing job with both her singing and her acting.
Others in the exemplary cast include Johanna Carlisle, Rebecca Duckworth, Rusty Ferracane (a male who portrays a ruthless female talent agent), Alex Kirby, Barbara McBain, and Debby Rosenthal.
Ruthless! The Musical is a great show, one that merits the honor of opening Phoenix's newest theatre venue.
(A nice supplement to the performance was included in the printed program. It contained mini-biographies on several infamous stage parents: Gertrude Temple, John and Lillian Coogan, Jaid Barrymore, Joe Jackson, Teri Shields, W.G. and Edmonia Sue Coleman, and Kit Culkin. Each merit a few minutes of research on "the google.")