“Kashmir if You Can” Shocks and Delights

April 19, 2011
Cute, vulgar, and bizarre are some descriptors that come to mind for this year’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals production, Kashmir If You Can. In keeping with Hasty Pudding Tradition, Kashmir was equally campy, raunchy, and ridiculous.

The story was centered upon vapid princess Sari M. Notsari (Ben Moss ’13), who is forced by her evil stepmother, Queen Latikah (Ethan Hardy ’14), into an arranged marriage with a “slumdog millionaire” named Pooch Yermoneywhereyermouthis (Matt DaSilva ’12). Sari, however, desires to elope with an Arabian slave boy, Kareem Inyourpants (Ryan Halprin ’12), and hilarity ensues in this comical homage to Indian culture.

The cast of 12 dedicated male undergraduates (6 of whom performed in drag) was incredibly strong across the board. Some standout performances were from Moss, who stretched his voice to commendable heights, and Hardy, who demonstrated comic flair and an undeniable stage presence. Brandon Ortiz ’12, who played a vulgar incarnation of Mary Poppins, was memorable for his outlandish, but effective, character choices. Jonathan Stevens ’14 (as Vishnu Werehere) demonstrated great vocal talent and performance ability in the role. Kyle Dancewicz ’11 (as Tilda Cowscomehome) was riotously funny, and uncannily convincing as a Swedish milkmaid. The comedic trio of Alex Willis ’14 (as Pariah Carey), Tony Oblen ’14 (as Lucinda Hips), and Charleton Lamb ’11 (as Shiva Metimbers) did little to advance the plot of the show, but was undoubtedly a fun distraction.

Although the story is not meant to be taken too seriously, it is evident that the production team was one of consummate professionals. Professional director Tony Parise made efficient use of the New College Theatre’s space and helped bring life to the impressively comedic writing of DJ Smolinski ’11 and Gus Hickey ’11. The pair’s book was rife with gloriously politically incorrect jokes and puns.  At times the humor went too far and was not as clever or comedic as expected, but on the whole they did produce an entertaining script.

The score of senior composer Adam Gold’s did not yield many memorable songs, but it was cleverer than the script and undoubtedly and well composed.  Highlights of the score included, “Mystery Repeats Itself,” a full company patter song in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, and the title number. “Mystery Repeats Itself” demonstrated both lyrical finesse and the commendable diction of the performers. “Kashmir If You Can” was a satisfying play on the traditional Broadway love ballad that worked effectively in the show as a whole. The music direction, by Alisa Bucchiere, was exact and thorough, contributing to the overall high performance quality of the show.

Kashmir If You Can was certainly not for the easily offended, but it was an endlessly entertaining experience for those who enjoy watching men in drag take comical pokes at pop (and Harvard) culture. Underneath all of the absurdity of the show ultimately resided an unwavering professionalism and dedication to performance, making the show an enjoyable and worthy investment.

The Harvard Art Review Theatre Board

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