‘Shucked’ World Premier at PTC: A Little Corny, A Lot of Fun


John Behlmann, Alex Newell, Caroline Innerbichler and Andrew Durand (Courtesy of PTC)

By Luke Jackson


Folks, “Shucked” has just had its world premiere at the Pioneer Theatre Company, and this, my friends, is a big deal. If you’re like me and don’t have a toe constantly dipped in the effervescent ocean of Broadway, odds are you don’t know that this is a big deal. I myself only learned recently, but now I am passing the savings off to you!


“Shucked” is a brand new Broadway-bound musical comedy whose company has a pool of awards deep enough to drown in. Directed by three-time Tony winner Jack O’Brien, with music by ten-time Grammy-nominated Brandy Clark and three-time Grammy winner Shane McAnally and written by Tony winner Robert Horn, “Shucked” is the real deal. Also, Robert Horn is credited with writing both Teen Beach Movies and “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure,” so you do the math.

The show centers around a group of lovable, simple country folk whose main source of life is corn. As the opening number explains, corn is eaten, drunk, worn and worshipped in Cobb County. Yet, there’s trouble afoot when the corn starts to die. This tragedy causes homegrown Maizy, played by Caroline Innerbichler, to postpone her wedding with her childhood sweetheart Beau, played by Andrew Durnad, and leave the town in search of help. This search leads Maizy to the sleezy, elderly-plagued Tampa, Florida. In Tampa, Maizy meets two-bit conman Gordy, played by John Behlmann, who thinks Cobb County is the ticket to riches.

Homey, Cute and Crass

“Shucked” is homey, cute and just crass enough to keep you on your toes. We are transported through the narrative by two storytellers, Taylor Trensch and Ashley D. Kelley, who are absolutely delightful together. The talent this cast exudes is almost ridiculous.

While the writing is witty and some lines are hilarious, the show somewhat suffers from what I call “MCU Disease.” Almost every single line is a joke, jab or double entendre, causing the character’s depth to suffer. The simplicity and convenience of the story is amplified by the constant wise-cracking of every single person on stage. Luckily, the cast is talented enough to give the show’s brief human and sentimental moments the depth they crave.

Newell Steals the Show

Speaking of talent, let me just take a second to tell you about Alex Newell. Newell is a familiar face whose abilities have graced popular TV shows like “Glee” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” If you have been lucky enough to catch these performances, then you know Newell has got what we theatre folk like to call “chops.”

Newell plays the character Lulu, Maizy’s cousin and best friend. They remain relatively reserved until about halfway through act one. Here, Lulu shines with her number “Independently Owned.” Hearing Newell absolutely annihilate this song is a downright spiritual experience. I’ve never heard anything like this in my life. Newell belts, and an immediate hush draws over the audience. Hair stands up on arms as you can physically feel their singing with every fiber of your being. It was like my molecules were being vibrated as I was levitating on the golden strands emanating from their lips.

“Shucked” is worth seeing for the experience of hearing Newell alone.

Get ‘Shucked’

Overall, “Shucked” is a little bit corny, but a lot of fun. You’re sure to laugh and you’re sure to be floored by the talent, I can at least guarantee you that. I’m interested to see how “Shucked” does as it brings its small-town roots to the Big Apple.

Before that day comes however, I recommend you get down to PTC as soon as you can. “Shucked” is only here until Nov. 12, and this show is going places. This is your chance to one-up all those Broadway bigwigs. When they come knocking on my door, I know I’ll be able to say, “I saw the world premiere pal, get Shucked.”


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