Monday night, I had the ultimate pleasure to witness the opening night of “Book of Crazy: Kevin & Johanna Present The DSM-IV in Song”. Before you read any more, know that it’s also performing (Friday the) 13th and the 16th both at 7pm at the Duplex at 61 Christopher Street. I’m actually going again the 13th – my husband will be videotaping it, and I’m happy to see the show for a second time!

I cannot tell you how brilliant the concept of this show is. I heard about snippets over the last few weeks, but it wasn’t until I saw it actualized on stage that I realized what a great idea the DSM-IV-inspired structure is. Part of the brilliance is that it is perfectly chosen to highlight the talents of Johanna Weller-Fahy and Kevin Scott Collins (the one behind the concept). They are good singers, but even better improv comedians. Unless it was directly inspired by an audience interaction, I could not tell what was scripted and what was improved. And the obvious improvs were hilarious. It helped that there were a lot of musical theater friends in the audience on Monday night; Johanna and Kevin bounced off of the Audience in a seemingly effortless manner. Plus, the mental disorders were general enough not to offend or turn people off from the performances.

In fact, the conceptual structure of the DSM-IV allowed for a large range of song choices and reknewed interperetations (all accompanied by Musical Director Eric Sedgwick). It also included the opportunity to sing songs uncommon to Cabaret as well. They all could be reconnected by lyrical theme to specific mental illnesses (is that a PC term?) from the book. In fact, the evening was also a “contest”: audience members who picked the correct mental ailment after each song (the options were handed out as a list within the program) vied for points towards a prize at the end of the evening. I was happy to note that our table split the prize…a gym grab bag full of goodies. 🙂

I’m tempering my enthusiasm to disclose all the song choices; part of the joy of the evening was being surprised by each song as it came out of the humerous banter between Kevin and Johanna. Some songs seemed “obvious” by title (ie. “Crazy” by Willie Nelson), many of the duets highlit the friendly competition between the two singers, others featured the comedic or vocal abilities of them as soloists, and others turned out to be fabulous twists on familiar songs. Props and surprises were put into the mix as well. Oh damn I really can’t reveal the one song that implemented these the most…but I will say that it reminded me that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote dark songs too.

If you have time Friday and Sunday night, go here, buy discounted tickets ($5 cheaper online than at the door) and purchase 2 drinks at the event for a really, really, really fun show. Lots of laughs, mental illness humor, song, and even dance! I highly recommend this! I encouraged Johanna and Kevin to take this introductory run of their show and take it to other venues, other states, and to develop it even further. I will post video if it is given to me in the near future. It certainly deserves to be seen…no matter how crazy you are.