I recently attended the opening night of Geraldine Sucks: The Musical and, beyond a couple of missteps, it did not disappoint. Based on Geraldine DeRuiter’s bestselling memoir, All Over The Place, and her deepest insecurities as told by three narrators – two therapists and her frontal lobe – this modern musical digs deep like a lightning-fast geoduck.
What worked: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s original score kept the audience connected. ‘Snacks On Snacks On Snacks’ in a style reminiscent of the Beastie Boys was a particular favorite; ‘Ode To Anxiety’ had some members of the audience weeping; and ‘Basic Nazi Bitch’ – a rousing military march dedicated to Donald Trump – had the whole theater on their feet. I didn’t think Rand, as played by an oversized Jim Henson muppet of himself would work, but it really captured his hair and enthusiasm in a way no real human could. No surprise that Jeff Goldblum as Geraldine’s frontal lobe worked perfectly, plus he sold street meat from his food truck during three intermissions. Stream-of-consciousness monologues from the lead role of Geraldine, aptly played by Dina Martina, captured the spirit and complexity of the original memoir.
What didn’t work: While the choreography was innovative, I hope that’s the last twerking-lindy hop combo I ever see on stage. 28 set design changes to accommodate every country Geraldine and Rand have ever been to seemed like overkill, and probably contributed to the musical’s five-and-a-half hour running time. Still unsure why they went with a fictional ending – the closing disco number after they move to Mars and become Martian ambassadors to Earth felt just a wee bit forced.
In the end, Geraldine didn’t suck as much as we were led to believe, but I think that’s a good thing for everyone involved. All of her quirky quirks were more endearing than draining, and in showbiz, that’s a win.
If you can’t get tickets to Geraldine Sucks: The Musical, I highly recommend the book it’s based on, which just came out this week. Congratulations to the cast and crew of this newly-crowned story of traveling weirdos in love!