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'Honeymoon in Vegas' is Pure Escapism!

Michael Mahler plays a schmuck named Jack Singer who was cursed by his mother ten years ago. Actually, it wasn’t a curse, it was a deathbed promise, to never get married, extracted by the mother from hell! Mahler, who is perfect as the schmuck, will tug at your heartstrings with his puppy dog eyes.

For the last five years, Jack has been dating Betsy Nolan (Samantha Pauly), who is getting tired of waiting. When Jack takes Betsy to Tiffany’s to buy an engagement ring, he feels the curse – especially when the store clerks malevolently taunt.

Suddenly the top of a counter is flung back by – his mother, Bea (Marya Grandy, who flips up her IV stand and sings “Never Get Married” to her guilt-ridden son. My face hurt I laughed so hard at Grandy’s portrayal of a mother who threatens to haunt her son if he breaks his promise. After his meltdown in Tiffany’s, Jack suggests flying to Las Vegas and getting married there.

Lounge singer, Buddy Rocky (Cole Borden) and his Showgirls (Kristina Larson and Allison Sill) are singing “When You Say Vegas” as Jack and Betsy arrive at the hotel. Unfortunately for Jack, Betsy is a dead ringer for the dead wife of con man/gambler, Tommy Korman (Seam Allan Krill).

Tommy still misses his wife, whose favorite thing, sun bathing, is also the thing which kills her, as we learn in “Out of the Sun”, a hilarious ditty about cancer and the sun bather’s necessities, SPF and a hat.

At a ‘new guest’ poker game set up by Tommy and his sidekick, Johnny Sandwich (Steven Strafford), Jack has amazing luck, getting a full house and a straight flush. Since Tommy has an even higher straight flush, Jack loses $58,000 which he doesn’t have. After threatening him with physical harm, Tommy suggests they “Come to an Agreement” – Tommy gets Betsy for a weekend.

Needless to say, Betsy is not pleased with Jack. When she does agree to spend a platonic weekend, Tommy whisks her off to his house in Hawaii. Although Jack follows them to Hawaii, he’s hijacked by gorgeous islander, Mahi (Christine Bunuan), who offers “Friki-Friki”.

When Jack tells Mahi that he’s under a curse, she takes him to The Garden of Disappointed Mothers where he is finally able to confront his mother. When he finally gets to Tommy’s house, he learns that Tommy and Betsy left, going back to Las Vegas to get married. When he can’t get a flight to Las Vegas without being routed through Atlanta, he hitches a ride with the Flying Elvi, and has to parachute into Las Vegas to stop the wedding.

Jason Robert Brown, who wrote the music and lyrics for “Honeymoon in Vegas” also wrote “Parade” and “Bridges of Madison County”. While those shows are both brilliant, they are more to the operatic side of the spectrum while “Honeymoon in Vegas” is definitely a musical comedy. All are amazing!