Back to the Future is a classic movie, one I watched so many times as a kid I'm not going out of my way to find encore showings on cable now as an adult. It's a shame you can't go back and experience the joy of seeing one of your favorite movies for the first time. The best compliment I can give Back to the Future, the Musical Parody is that the exuberant, horny ode breathes new life into something very familiar.
Created by director Andy Barrett and musical director Matt Insley, Back to the Future, the Musical Parody is the story of Marty McFly (Dave Cole), Doc Brown (John Branch) and their time-traveling high jinks, with 14 original songs and many more comedic tangents that weren't in the movie. Their artistic liberty, for instance, takes the form of a dream sequence in which Doc duets with fellow era-hoppers Bill and Ted and Doctor Who. Even Einstein the dog (Rob Lauta Hill) gets more creative freedom in this version as a helpful sidekick with lines.
One thing the show does well is manage the balance between new and source material. It's a fine line between "making it your own" and turning it into something else entirely. For the most part, the story sticks to plot points and reiterates memorable lines verbatim. There's a sense of reverence for the great film, yet also an acknowledgement that even great films can be full of weirdness and plot holes and dated references.
The music comprises a variety of genres. Opening number "Hill Valley 1985" is like a scene-setting Broadway overture in which the entire cast comes out and introduces itself. The first song by Biff Tannen (Mandy Khoshnevisan) is more roadhouse blues, and we learn his name may actually be an acronym for "Bullying Is Freakin' Fantastic."
"My Mom Is Hot for Me" is sung by Marty after he realizes that by pushing his dad out of the way of an oncoming car, he has inadvertently caused his horny teenage mother to fall in love with him. Lyrics like "I know we share DNA, but we shouldn't share it right now," might be yucky if they weren't so funny—each number is consistently stuffed with wit and innuendo.
And then there's the solo by Lorraine (Kate Faye Cummings, who in addition to being a dead ringer for a young Lea Thompson, is also a great singer). It's a show-stopping number in which she belts out, "I'm not a tease!" like a cabaret performer.
Old stories have been adapted into musicals for hundreds of years—many of the longest-performed operas are based on classic fairy tales. In a way, this is no different. Back to the Future has become deeply ingrained in the cultural consciousness. The real test is whether the adaptation is good enough to stand on its own. Back to the Future, the Musical Parody does. You could see this show without knowing anything about Back to the Future and still have an enjoyable time. And for the record, I don't just want to rewatch the movie now, I also want to binge the sequels.
SEE IT: Back to the Future, the Musical Parody is at Funhouse Lounge, 2432 SE 11th Ave., funhouselounge.com. 7 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, through Sept. 29. $19.85-$100.