With so much "will they or won't they?" in the media about the Arrested Development movie, it is beginning to look like by the time it makes it way into theaters (assuming it ever does), the references may be too dated and too hinging on a once-great-but-now-long-gone show to pull in the numbers needed to do prove to Fox they did the wrong thing by prematurely canceling it. Hell, Michael Cera's new project, Youth In Revolt, was only delayed by about a year and a half, and that alone suffers from such issues (and more, as his awkward teen phase may have worked a couple of years ago, but believe it or not he appears to have grown out of it now. See Paper Heart). One very special fan isn't going to allow her beloved program to go out with a whimper, though, and to see it stays current in pop culture, she has written an original play that not only plays homage to the original series but expands upon it and all of its quirky cast of characters.
The play parody by Jackye Swidler picks up where the show left off: Michael is still threatening to leave the family; Oscar and Lucille have started a new financial "hippie" endeavor; Tobias has gotten caught up in a pyramid scheme; and Lindsay has decided she is a lesbian. This week on "Arrested Re-Development."
And yes, the play is punctuated by the dry narration we have come to know and love.
Tonight (January 9), Swidler and her cast put on a staged reading of the performance to a couple hundred diehard fans...and a few supporters who had never even seen the show. Overheard in the row behind me: a man explaining to his female theater companion the meaning behind Lindsay Bluth-Funke's "SLUT" tank top.
The fans obviously got the most out of the play, which banked on call-back references to the "cornballer," "Love, Indubitably," and cut-offs, but many laughs were also had over the zany new situations (Lucille's aforementioned "hippie" turn has her recreationally using something other than alcohol for a change).
The actors portraying Tobias (Wayne Temple), Buster (Brandon Kallembach), and Oscar (Michael Halpin) were especially spot-on, but it was Lindsay (Caileigh Scott)'s lines, Lucille (Ashley Knaysi)'s crooked winking, and Gob (James Heaney)'s second act magic show that got some of the loudest crowd reactions. And I would be remiss to leave out Angela Raskin who took a page from RENT and portrayed multiple ensemble characters, most enjoyably a spiky-wig wearing Lucille 2 that actually rivaled Liza Minnelli's.
Swidler not only wrote the play, but she is directing it and co-starring as Maeby Funke, and her enthusiasm for the material clearly shines through and motivates her team. Though as of press time there are no details available on the full production dates or ticket sales, rest assured the minute there is, I will update here...after buying a front row seat, of course! The big screen has nothing on a live show!