Book and lyrics by Ben King and Nicholas Hune-Brown Music by Nicholas Hune-Brown Directed by Lorna Wright (Toronto Fringe Festival) and Jordan Merkur (Next Stage Festival)
This screwball musical comedy follows has-been actor Rex Maverick to the world’s “hottest new market” for musicals – The People’s Republic of China. Instead of bustling Beijing or Shanghai, however, Rex finds himself in a tiny farming community directing a cast of enthusiastic amateurs, including a shy love-struck writer, a bumbling Mid-Level Official, and a strong-willed young woman contemptuous of the Hollywood star. While Rex is stuck in the town waiting for seasonal rains to pass, cultures clash, personalities collide, the workers control the means of production, and musical magic is born! The musical comedy was a hit at the Toronto Fringe Festival, selling out the George Ignatieff Theatre and winning the “Patron’s Pick Award.” It was remounted at the Factory Theatre in the winter of 2010 as part of Next Stage Theatre Festival, where it set festival box office records. Go to the official myspace page Read the EYE WEEKLY cover story
WHAT CRITICS HAVE SAID ABOUT “JUST EAST OF BROADWAY” THE TORONTO STAR, Mark Selby
“Chinatown meets Urinetown in this clever show poking fun at music theatre conventions.
Rex Maverick, a washed-up movie star, finds as his only source of employment the boom of Western musical theatre being mounted in China (“the new New York”). There, he blindly leads a Guffman-esque cast of crazies through a musical about mutants.
Brimming with youthful creativity, this irreverent send-up by Nick Hune-Brown and Ben King moves briskly with humour, heart and catchy songs. The cast is exceptional, though they could use a little more confidence considering the strength of the material. Director Lorna Wright keeps things moving smoothly, thankfully without relying too much on Chinese stereotypes for laughs. This is a show more sweet than sour, and likely one of the funniest at the Fringe.”
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NOW MAGAZINE, Jordan Bimm
NNNN -> CRITICS PICK
This musical comedy follows Hollywood has-been Rex Maverick (Jay Davis) to a new gig in a Chinese backwater. A strong ensemble powered by Davis’s charisma and Lana Carillo’s beautiful, pitch-perfect singing make the funny script and cute, bouncy songs click, while Lorna Wright’s inventive and animated direction adds quirky comic value to every scene. Heart-warming and hilarious, Just East lands just right. * * * THE PLANT, Ryan West It’s a wonderful experience to walk out of a theatre with a big smile plastered across your face. It doesn’t happen often enough, but the rarity makes you really appreciate the gems that achieve it, and Just East of Broadway is one such example. With high energy, catchy songs and a cast that are obviously enjoying themselves every step of the way, it hits the perfect tone for slapstick musical theatre that I haven’t seen since Evil Dead: The Musical. The story follows Rex Maverick, a washed up, egotistical Broadway actor who finds himself transported to a rural village in China to star in a cultural initiative to put the sleepy town on the map. Sure, the locals speak flawless English and the town is about as Chinese as a fortune cookie, but the wackiness is easy to embrace. The tempo doesn’t sag from start to finish, nor do the laughs. The entire cast enjoy their roles with infectious energy, and particularly watch for Gene Abella and his affable sternness as the Mid-Level Official. This show was fun, full stop. If you’re looking for lighter fare and lots of laughs, look no further than Just East of Broadway. * * *
EYE WEEKLY, Paul Gallant FOUR STARS You’ve seen the bones of this one a million times: a jerk — in this case, a Hollywood has-been — finds himself living among hicks he scorns (particularly that feisty one) who win him over by asking him to bail them out of a jam. But the glee with which this musical-about-a-musical juggles its clichés makes it a total giggle fest. Set mostly in rural China, it’s as Chinese as a chicken ball. As the smarmy actor, Jay Davis doesn’t quite sing like someone with Broadway credentials, but Lana Carillo, who plays the rival/love interest, belts the catchy tunes well enough for both of them.