SHUCKED Stalks a Great Musical Claim — Review


Ashley D. Kelley and Grey Henson | Photo: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

Juan A. Ramirez
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April 4, 2023 9:00 PM

It’s all about the delivery. With a name like Shucked, such goofy (not to mention omnipresent) marketing, and such an open fondness for, and invitation to hear, endless cornpone puns, the success of the latest original musical to open Broadway relies almost entirely on how it presents itself. About those puns: the show is bursting with them–some knee-slappers, some eyerolls—but, delivered with such infectious eagerness to please, they’re not low-hanging jokes but rather explosive, silly little kernels picked from high-grown stalks.

Well, Shucked pops!

It’s not just puns, either, Robert Horn’s clever book is full of those improbably quaint proverbs grown somewhere between the Midwest and the South. You know, like “Cousin, these eyebrows may not be my children, but I am about to raise them,which the incandescent Alex Newell darts out shortly after bringing the house down with their standout solo. Sarah O’Gleby’s choreography gets in on the fun, too, opening the show with a cob-parade kickline and later having characters seesaw aboard planks atop barrels.

Alex Newell | Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally’s lovely, down-home music & lyrics are as efficiently straightforward as Scott Park’s cavernous barn set, where two fourth-wall breaking Storytellers (the hilarious Grey Henson and Ashley D. Kelley) instruct us to think of the smallest-minded conservative town, then “think even smaller.” From there, Maizy (the sweet-voiced Caroline Innerbichler), breaks out in an attempt to save its withering staple crop, and rescue her home from its aging ways.

The cast of Shucked | Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

What’s it about? Well, there’s Peanut (Kevin Cahoon, nailing each of his lines) hanging around, and Beau (Andrew Durand) moping about, and newcomer Gordy (John Behlmann), taking mysterious calls. Director Jack O’Brien doesn’t have to shake his bag of characters too roughly to bring out the salt and pepper from this joyous show with zero illusions about its aims and ambitions. Shucked is about as quick and easy a good time can be had on Broadway: accessible, unpretentious and, I’ll be damned, a whole lot of fun.

Shucked is in performance at the Nederlander Theatre on West 41st Street in New York City. For tickets and more information, visit here.

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Juan A. Ramirez

Juan A. Ramirez writes arts and culture reviews, features, and interviews for publications in New York and Boston, and will continue to do so until every last person is annoyed. Thanks to his MA in Film and Media Studies from Columbia University, he has suddenly found himself the expert on Queer Melodrama in Venezuelan Cinema, and is figuring out ways to apply that.

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