For the longtime home of Million Dollar Quartet to have transitioned to the site of a rotating slate of parody musicals could be cringe-inducing, if not for their impressively consistent quality and ability to draw sizable audiences. It’s a feat that’s all the more notable with Omicron’s rise (and hopeful fall?) emptying chairs at live events citywide. This 75-minute parody musical came at the right time for me, as I’ve joined and since retired from Bachelor Nation over the course of the pandemic, but it’s a fun ride for anyone vaguely familiar with the reality show mainstay’s premise, the symbolism of roses, and the often unhinged, but assuredly “right reasons” contestants go looking for love on national television.
Bachelor: The Unauthorized Parody Musical
Through 2/13: Tue-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM, no shows Tue 1/25 and Thu 1/27; Apollo Theater Chicago, 2550 N. Lincoln, 773-935-6100, bachelorthemusical.com, $29-$59.
From simple, effective jokes like naming every contestant Lauren, to more biting jabs about the show’s morally questionable and often manufactured “trauma bonding,” the musical appeals thanks to its pace, spot-on mockery, and the cast’s infectious enthusiasm. Written by Richelle Meiss with music by Sam Johnides and Tony Gonzalez, the one-act (presented by Right Angle Entertainment) deftly mimics the maudlin melodrama of the hit ABC show, including its preshow promos and tearful goodbyes. Under Tim Drucker’s direction, a breadth of jokes—from innuendo gags, to clever, direct callbacks, to recent franchise drama—land with impact and are punctuated by the cast’s perfectly cartoonish gestures and body language (especially Christopher Wayland as “Bachelor”). He belts out the age-old question “Should I follow my penis or heart?” and you find yourself reflecting, until Alexandria Neyhart’s phallic costume (designed by Jessica Sheehan) promptly climaxes onstage. Ah, romance.