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A Very Brady 'Jubilee' at American Renegade Theatre

March 08, 2001|JANA J. MONJI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In Lloyd J. Schwartz and Michael Paul's musical comedy, "Jubilee," at the American Renegade Theatre, the title stands for a horse race and the name of a dessert rather than any type of celebration, for this addition to musical theater gives little reason to celebrate.

This trifle revolves around a blind man, Martin (Jack Riley), whose children are desperately trying to earn money for an eyesight restoration operation. It's cheery, bright and high on hokeyness. Some of the one-liners are so obvious that a blind man could see them coming--and he wouldn't have to take off his sunglasses.

Martin's daughter, Milly (Lyndie Renee), meets a young medical student (Bob Bergen), who happens to write musicals in his spare time. They put on a show to raise money.

Martin's son, Ben (Jared Mass), takes up boxing, while his other son, Terry (Jason Galloway), decides to enter a horse race.

Schwartz's lyrics are laughable (and not in a good way), and Paul's music is only serviceable. Schwartz, who also wrote this musical's book, was the producer behind Paramount's "A Brady Bunch Movie" and "A Very Brady Christmas" (his father, Sherwood Schwartz, produced "The Brady Bunch" TV show), and the saccharine sweetness associated with the Brady Bunch is evident here.

Director Pamela Hall keeps everything frivolous and sappy. Although there's no Marcia clone, Scott Metzger as Claude, Martin's slightly shady son, bears some resemblance to Barry Williams, the original Greg Brady.

The plot's high pile of coincidences might be easier to bear if the lyrics were better or if some of the singing wasn't off-key. In all, where most sunny musicals should leave you smiling, this one only inspires a sigh of relief when it's finally over.

* "Jubilee," American Renegade Theatre, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends April 29. $25. (818) 763-1834. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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