I have a blanket rule to always check out any show at the Fringe titled “____ the Musical”. This has so far always led to a good, entertaining 50 minute spectacle combining excellent original music and solid character performances parodying or mocking their subject. Scientology the Musical is no exception.
Presented by local production group George Glass, this production spends a good deal pointing out the ridiculousness of Scientology as well as everyone’s favourite legal religion, including its founder, science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. We are presented with four characters, Susan (Alister McMichael), Steve ‘O’ (Daniel Murnane), Cookie (Nicolas Conway) and their leader Braden (Brad Price), as four loyal believers in the teachings of Dianetics. These characters also double as band members, joined by Henry Gazzola on drums, jumping seamlessly from jokes to music and an impressive number of costume changes. The music was reminiscent of a variety of rock bands, from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to the Beatles, proving themselves versatile musicians. There were some sound issues, where the instruments seemed to overpower the vocalists, making it difficult to understand some of the lyrics, but this improved over the course of the evening. The drone of outside noise was also an issue, but that can hardly be helped when performing in a tent – so sit in the front rows if you want the best experience.
The story itself was a lot looser than a traditional musical. Instead of a clear plot, we’re introduced to each character and their reason for embracing Scientology, a whole lot of jokes and monologues, and why they each are eager to uncover the secrets inside the briefcase of the totally true origins of the universe. And the payoff here is well worth it, especially if you’ve never seen or read anything about Scientology before.
There were times when jokes stretched on a little too long, and characters were a bit too over the top, but overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable show. Regardless of your beliefs (unless you’re a Scientologist, I suppose) you’ll enjoy this light-hearted and witty comedy musical.
Words by Simone Corletto
Scientology the Musical is performing at The Speakeasy in Gluttony on the 17th of Feb to the 4th of March. Tickets available here.