Mad Libs Live!, a zany family musical inspired by the popular fill-in-the-blank word game, opened in early November at Manhattan’s New World Stages.
For the uninitiated, Mad Libs is a classic game invented in New York City in the 1950s. A simple story features blanks standing in for some key words. Players take turns suggesting parts of speech to complete the story, which is then read aloud, usually to peels of laughter.
My son and I love Mad Libs. We keep a pad or two in the car, and I always add one to his camp care package, so once I heard about Mad Libs Live!, I knew we were destined to see it, especially given that one of the producers is a New York City schoolkid.
Mad Libs Live is energetic, original and fast-paced. It captures the essence of the classic word game, and watching it can help kids distinguish between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
In the one-hour musical, you meet four students from Blankville Central High School: jock, Gogo; diva, Virtuosa; shy and artsy Merrily; and nerd Geyser (played by Jeanfranco Cardentey, Lindsey Brett Carothers, Melody Madarasz and Max Joseph, respectively.)
The teens are competing in a musical contest in which they hope to go on to fame and fortune. But there is one snag — Merrily hasn’t finished writing the songs yet. She has left blanks in each song and has no time to fix them.
Unknown to the rest of the group, Merrily slips out onto the stage before the show and asks the audience to complete four slips of paper and hand them to an usher. Each slip asks for a part of speech and your name. When the singers panic over the missing words in their songs, Merrily works these slips into the plot, producing a hysterical, ad-libbed musical.
This high-energy show kept us laughing as the cast sang, danced and ad-libbed.
The actors sing and dance through nine numbers. As they are presented with blanks in their lyrics, they pull the colored slips of paper containing the audience’s nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs from a bucket and seemlessly incorporate them into the catchy tunes.
Mad Libs Live! is best for kids 7 years of age and older. My 10-year-old loved it, commenting that, "It was really, really funny." I, too, completely enjoyed the show, and I know I wasn't the only adult in the audience giggling.
The engaging production keeps everyone, especially kids, on the edges of their seats and, like the Mad Libs game on which it is based, you never know what will happen. It is never the same twice.
Mad Libs Live!
is running weekends through January 3 at the New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street.
Tickets are $49.50.
All photos provided courtesy of the show.