LAW AND ORDER: THE MUSICAL

Grade:

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

After that statement you hear “dun dun.” What the hell is that sound? Well, you will get a wide variety of reasons. One source claims it’s the sound of a jail cell door closing. Another one says it’s the sound of a judge striking his gavel down. Actor Dann Florek (Captain Donny Cragen) said it sounds more like “doink doink.” I prefer comedian/actor Richard Belzer (Detective Sgt. John Munch) said it’s the sound of “Dick Wolf’s cash register sound.” He could be right. Wolf, began Law & Order in September 1990 through May 2010, that’s over 400 episodes. They Emmy-winning series was able to endure 20 years because of the many “ripped from the headlines” real-life stories. Subsequently, others followed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1990 – present), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001–2011) not my favorite, Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005–2006) which should’ve been given more of a chance to succeed. Other shows continued but the best is the original.

I’m surprised television titan Dick Wolf didn’t dream of a musical. It’s not for lack of stories and the music in the individual stories are authentic and easily memorable. Enter Ilyse Mimoun who wrote the book, lyrics and directed and Jeremy Adelman scored the music. With some help from renowned choreographer Lou Becker, and Blooming Damsel Productions comes up with a hysterical and original piece of work. Fans of the series will easily find nuggets of familiarity from past cases and a pun on names. If you’re unfamiliar with the L&O format, which I would find difficult to believe, the layout goes like this. First 30 minutes, the crime has already been committed. The case goes to trial by the last half hour. Investigation then, to trial all in one hour. Too bad, that doesn’t happen in real life, you know?

Socialite Angelica Bower is killed in her high rise apartment in New York City. Detectives Geene (Ebenezer “Nez” Alasi in his American debut) and Criscoe (Steve Fite) go to investigate. They determine that Angelica put up a hell of a fight. They soon discover she’s the daughter of Italian Mafioso Rico Morelli. Geene and Criscoe question Sammy Dunbar (Godfrey Flax) Morelli’s friend with benefits, wink, wink! Criscoe is the “sensitive” one who talks to Sammy like a friend, whereas Geene shakes his fist in Sammy’s face to intimidate answers. After the ME (medical examiner) explains the injuries, Criscoe and Geene are on the job. Later they speak to an informative doorman (Kerr Lordygan) who has no problem detailing Angelica’s last few hours. The dynamic duo report to the “lu,” Lieutenant Fanita (Tara Cox is hysterical moving back and forth like she’s in a race) who’s a combination of Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Captain Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson). She constantly makes comments about being in the only female in the squad. Rightly so, because she is. Cox does double duty as both the “lu” and a judge. She’s reminiscent of actor David Lipman who plays my favorite curmudgeon judge Arthur Cohen in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Without giving too much away, the story unfolds on who’s who and makes you ponder “what the hell are these people thinking?” It’s simple. People who commit murder, or are in the know, look out for themselves when stuff goes awry. Angelica’s husband was messing with her friend Holly Osgood (Kira Powell). The discovery of nude pictures, of Angelica? Or, of her daddy? is soon discovered and the mayhem ensues set to lively music and good dance moves. And like the ending of the actual show, this one wraps up a complicated case and move one to the next episode.
Mimoun directed this farce with such admiration for the show and the franchise and I appreciate that. She’s obviously a fan. She plays on the names, Geene for Detective Ed Green (Jessie L. Martin), Detective Criscoe and attorney Klincaid, for prosecutor Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy) and Detective Lenny Briscoe (the late Jerry Orbach), Dolivet for clinical psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (Carolyn McCormick), Spliff for District Attorney Adam Schiff (the late Steven Hill). Long-time fans, will have fun recognizing certain clues from past episodes while new fans will turn to channel TNT and binge on the shows.
DOINK! DOINK!

Law and Order: The Musical plays until Sunday, March 15th, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. at The Broadwater Second Stage Theater, located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. For ticket information log on to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4470025 or call 800-838-3006.