Off-Broadway Review: FIVE, THE PARODY MUSICAL (Five Musical LLC at Theater 555)

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by Gregory Fletcher on February 19, 2024

in Theater-New York


To the worldwide fanbase of the Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’s Six, fear not — the new Off-Broadway parody Five pays loving homage to the girl-power musical sensation that brings the six wives of Henry VIII together for a competition to decide which one had it worse. In Six, each queen makes her case in true popstar fashion with a glorious song in the styles of diva pop stars. By the end, they realize that competing as individuals makes them weak and insignificant; whereas, if they stand together as a group, they become the powerful leading ladies they truly are — to be remembered throughout history. Six ends like it began with each queen singing the one word that best describes them. Aragon: DIVORCED; Boleyn: BEHEADED; Seymour: DIED; Cleves: DIVORCED; Howard: BEHEADED; Parr: SURVIVED.

Hannah Bonnett as Ivanka
The Cast

FIVE, The Parody Musical, which opened tonight at Theater 555, brings together the three wives of Donald Trump — Ivana, Marla, and Melania — with porn star Stormy Daniels and second-born child of Trump, Ivana Marie “Ivanka” Trump, making it five. The show begins similarly to Six with dim lighting and stage fog as the five women face upstage with their backs to the audience. Then with a diva turn, each sings their best description. Ivana: DIVORCED; Stormy: GAVE HEAD; Marla: FIRED; Melania: HIRED. Missing one? Librettists and lyricists Shimmy Braun and Moshiel Newman Daphna, and co-lyricist/composer Billy Recce leave Ivanka out till later when she describes herself as FAVORITE, DADDY’S PRINCESS, and NUMBER ONE. The competition (or in this case, the primary debate) follows the same structure as Six, with each claiming through song who had been fucked over the most by the Donald.

Gabriella Joy Rodriguez as Marla

As soloists, the performers are powerful singers, each playing a women on the verge of divadom, but not quite there yet. It’s here that the parody takes a turn from the music of Six and visits many other sources. Gabriella Joy Rodriguez’s Marla sings “Un-Popular” (a send-up from Wicked), Gabi Garcia’s Stormy sings “Storm’s Comin’ In” (a send-up of “It’s Raining Men”), and Hannah Bonnett’s Ivanka sings “Kiss Me Daddy One More Time” (a send up of the Britney Spears song). The long list of tributes continues with Anyae Anasia as Ivana, and Jamie Lyn Beatty as Melania, who I especially enjoyed in “Don Dump Tango” a send-up of Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango” in which each fantasizes how they would end Donald’s life. Instead of singing in Hungarian, as with the original Chicago — which most audiences can’t understand — Melania simply sings unintelligibly with a heavy Slovenia accent.

Jaime Lyn Beatty as Melania
The Cast

Just when the five women have made their case, a special guest breaks into the competition. Drag star Jasmine Rice Labeija plays Hillary Clinton, who may not have slept with Donald, “but I did get fucked by him.” Her song “Don’t You Miss Me Now” is the star turn of the show. Here is the true diva at last, and the audience couldn’t shower enough love. (The real Hillary Clinton would be pleased and honored.) At one point in her song, the sendups change with each new line of lyrics, paying homage to dozens of songs. Such a performance on Broadway would elicit a Tony nomination. By the end, the thunderous applause marked Hillary as the true winner of the competition. But as with the ending of Six, the women realize, “Just because we were fucked by Donald doesn’t mean we need to fuck over each other.” This sentiment is not only intended for the women onstage but also to the audience and to the country at large.

Anyae Anasia as Ivana

Jen Wineman’s direction keeps us in the world of Six but her dancemaking comes nowhere close to the energy and showmanship of Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, the choreographer of Six. The smaller Off-Broadway budget no doubt limits the technical aspects of production. Even the sweet Christian, Marla Maples, forgives David Goldstein’s lackluster scenic design: “We could not afford a set of our own, and our homosexual assistant Brendan pulled all this from a storage unit in Mar-a-Lago, and well, he did what he could do, bless his heart.”

The Cast
The Cast

Florence D’Lee’s costumes adequately distinguish the women but the footwear can’t compete with the dynamic high-heeled shoes in Six. Nor can Jamie Roderick & Marie Yokoyama’s light design, which is tame compared to the non-stop everchanging lighting at the Lena Horne Theater. Ian Joseph’s hair, wigs, and make-up design contributes much to differentiating the women, and prop designer Brendan McCann outshines the limited next-to-no props on Broadway. The lower budget affected Bailey Trierweiler, Kevin Heard & Uptownworks‘ sound design the most — many lyrics were lost and/or muffled. Instead of the four musicians in Six, the three-member band here rarely matched what the burgeoning divas deserved (music supervision, conductor & keyboards Lena Gabrielle). Interesting what a difference the lack of one musician can make.

Gabi Garcia as Stormy

As much as I enjoyed Five, it doesn’t quite live up to past Off-Broadway parodies like the sorely missed Forbidden Broadway series — all of which were laugh out loud funny. Five is much more sexual and crude in its descriptions of being fucked by Donald Trump. Hearing about his small prick and his sexual escapades (especially from pornstar Stormy), I struggled to immediately delete such images from my mind’s eye. The thought of Donald in any sexual act turned my stomach, which may have kept me from laughing. Perhaps nausea and comedy cancel each other out? Nevertheless, Five is an amusing entertainment about the women who have survived the former president. May we all be so lucky. And it’s worth repeating for our country’s sake: Just because we were fucked by Donald Trump doesn’t mean we need to fuck each other over.

The Cast

photos by Jeremy Daniel

FIVE, The Parody Musical
ater 555, 555 W. 42nd Street
ends on March 10, 2024 EXTENDED to April 21, 2024
Mon and Thurs at 7; Fri at 8, Sat at 5 & 9, and Sun 3
for tickets ($49-$69), visit Five The Musical
produced by Shimmy Braun, Moshiel Newman Daphna, Alley Ballard, Adam Cohen,
Israel Forst & Susan Sun, and the Broadway Investor’s Club

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

karen sobel February 26, 2024 at 7:37 am

i want to buy tix to five
i do NOT want to sit in first row
can you please tell me how i can get tix in lowest price point but NOT get tix for 1st row- if possible LAST row only


Tony Frankel March 3, 2024 at 9:41 pm

Yeah, call the box office.


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