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Golfers played for laughs in 'GOLF: The Musical'

The Associated Press, Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 10:31am (PST)

NEW YORK (AP) -- As anyone who's played or observed the game of golf knows, it's a very serious sport with an equally silly side to it. Michael Roberts has mined the frustrations of golf addicts to create a funny, good-natured comedy revue titled "GOLF: The Musical," that has returned to off-Broadway for another round. More precisely, it opened underneath Broadway on Monday night, in a cheery revival downstairs on 46th Street at the Midtown Theatre.

Tom Gamblin, Lyn Philistine, Brian Runbeck and Christopher Sutton are a vocally and comedically gifted foursome of golfers, handling various roles in nineteen vignettes about the popular pastime. Appropriately, the nightclub-style venue also serves as a veritable "nineteenth hole," that time-honored, post-game spot for a friendly drink.

The cast harmonizes quite nicely together on Roberts' catchy songs. The amusing opening number answers the question, "Why do a musical about golf?" and the satire takes off from there. In one skit, Gamblin and Runbeck have fun playing famous celebrity golfers Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, getting laughs by mocking their own (pretty good) attempts at impersonation.

Sutton has a wide-eyed delivery that serves him well, especially when he sends up film noir in "Golf Detective." Speaking about a low-scoring golfer, he drily intones, "This guy couldn't break a hundred if he was a bank teller."

Philistine, a strong singer and expressive performer, is a good sport with the sometimes sophomoric, over-the-top double-entendres, notably in her golf-widow solo, "My Husband Is Playing Around," and "Golf's Such a Naughty Game."

The production is enhanced by the lively onstage piano accompaniment of musical director Ken Lundie, apparently enjoying each joke as if hearing it for the first time.

Roberts wrote the book, music and lyrics based on a concept by producer Eric Krebs. Originally premiering off-Broadway in 2003, the material has been updated to reflect current events, including a ribald (of course) song about Tiger Woods. Christopher Scott directs this zippy, 90-minute production for maximum light-hearted fun.

A few discordant notes, or "whiffs," come from overly off-color humor and several tasteless, sexist references that should have been put "out of bounds" in the last century. An antediluvian song about PMS and a couple of personal jabs about women of note could be easily removed, in keeping with the genial, light-hearted approach of the rest of the show.

Great golfers, amateurs, hackers and duffers alike, or friends and loved ones of people who fit those categories, should find plenty to laugh at in this sprightly show.

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Online: http://www.golfthemusical.com

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