by Theo Sloan
February 25, 2022
The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a horror-comedy musical produced by Team Starkid. It was written and directed by Matt and Nick Lang, with music and lyrics by Jeff Blim, and it stars Jon Matteson, Lauren Lopez, Jeff Blim, Joey Richter, Jaime Lyn Beatty, Mariah Rose Faith, Corey Dorris, and Robert Manion. It’s also free to watch on YouTube and well worth the watch if you have a couple hours to spare. It’s set in the fictional town of Hatchetfield and follows a simple man named Paul as his worst nightmare comes to life: the world turns into a musical.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the most important part of a musical is its music, because that is almost always the thing that will stick with the audience the longest. You can have a fantastic story with interesting, well-developed characters, and it will still only work as a musical if the songs are good; on the flip side, it is very possible for a musical to have a bad or even problematic story, and for that to not really matter because the songs are good (e.g., Dear Evan Hansen). While I definitely don’t love every song in The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, most of them range from good to fantastic, and the soundtrack as a whole is pretty listenable even outside the context of the show. A few of my personal favorites are the opening number and title track, “The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals,” as well as “Let It Out,” “Inevitable,” “Join Us (and Die),” “La Dee Dah Dah Day,” and “Show Stoppin Number.” The opening number serves as a great tone-setter, not only establishing the comedic chops of the cast, but also introducing the basic premise and main character. It’s super high-energy and has some really fun jokes sprinkled throughout. It also gives every cast member a chance to sing a line or two, so it introduces us to them all as performers and gives us a little idea as to what to expect going forward. “Let It Out” and “Inevitable” are the two songs that close out the show. “Let It Out” features some of the best acting in the show, and really showcases what Jon Matteson, who plays Paul, is capable of, both as an actor and a singer. I don’t want to get too much into what “Inevitable” is about, as it’s a fairly large spoiler, but suffice to say that it serves as a very good representation of this show at its very best, both as a comedy and a horror story, not to mention that it features an excellent medley of all the major songs sung in the show up until that point and is led by another fantastic vocal performance by Jon. “Join Us (and Die)” is the show’s first turn into full horror and also showcases Jaime Lyn Beatty’s stunning vocal range; “La Dee Dah Dah Day” is a fun, upbeat ensemble number in which the comedic side of the show is dialed up to eleven; and “Show Stoppin Number” is an acid trip of an interlude, led by Robert Manion, in which you question both your own sanity and the sanity of everyone involved in putting the number together. It’s also some of the best satire of musical theater as a genre to ever exist. Suffice to say, I really like a lot of the music in this show.
However, that’s not to say that every song in the show works for me on a musical level. “Tied Up My Heart” is a song with some fantastic choreography on Jeff Blim’s end, but it goes on for too long, and the singing is iffy at best and grating at worst. It still makes for an entertaining scene, but it would have been better if it were written in Blim’s natural range and went on for less time. The other song that I don’t really like is “Not Your Seed,” the song that kicks off the second act. My main problem here is that it cycles through musical ideas very quickly; as a result, it’s very difficult to ever properly get into the scene. Just when I’m vibing with one style, it completely switches up, and this creates a sense of whiplash when listening to it. But Mariah Rose Faith’s voice is absolutely incredible. Do not mistake this as me criticizing her performance, because she does the best she possibly can with the material she’s given.
Another element of this show that shines throughout is the choreography. From Blim’s dance that he does tied to a chair, to Manion’s insane dancing during “Show Stoppin Number,” to Matteson’s fight with himself in “Let It Out,” the choreography in the show never fails to build on the music in a creative, visually engaging way. It’s able to elevate songs that I don’t much care for, such as “Tied Up My Heart,” into scenes that I find fun to watch, and that alone speaks volumes about its quality.
Now besides the musical aspect, the other most important part of a musical is its writing, both in terms of overall story and screenplay. In terms of story, I think this show is simply brilliant. I love the idea of a musical apocalypse, and I think it’s executed very well. It’s sufficiently goofy when it needs to be, sufficiently terrifying when it needs to be, and it does a surprisingly good job blending the horror and the comedy together. The show is, in many ways, an homage to the over-the-top and campy horror films of the 1980s, and by embracing that tone, it’s able to get away with a lot that many modern horror stories would not be able to. The primary thing that comes to mind is the practical gore effects, which are somehow both excellent and patently ridiculous at the same time. All that is to say that the concept is excellent.
The script, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. Full disclosure, I absolutely adore it, I find the comedy in it to be absolutely fantastic, and I doubt I will ever get tired of watching it. However, I acknowledge that comedy is a very subjective medium, and it’s very likely that some people will watch the show and just not like the style it’s written in. While there are some jokes that I’m comfortable with describing as unambiguously excellent, such as the bit involving walking through the audience, the entirety of “Show Stoppin Number,” and some of the physical comedy in the coffee shop numbers, the comedy in the show is often quite R-rated, and depending on what type of humor you enjoy, your enjoyment of the show will likely vary.
Finally, I’d like to touch on the characters. This show has a fairly small cast, so pretty much everyone plays multiple characters in the show, with the exception of Matteson. A few personal favorites of mine are General John MacNamara, portrayed by Blim; Emma Perkins, portrayed by Lopez; and Paul, portrayed by Matteson. All three have the most distinct characterizations out of the larger ensemble, but that’s not to say that I dislike any of the characters in the show. Sure, there are one or two who feel a tad more like caricatures than fully fleshed out people, but I think that fits with the overall tone that The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is going for. And importantly, Paul and Emma, the two main characters of the show, do go through compelling and nuanced character arcs.
Overall, I think The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals is a fantastic show. It has great songs, better choreography, and a very solid story that, tying it all together, often passes into greatness. Not to mention, I find the jokes to be really funny, although I understand that will vary a fair amount depending on the comedic style you enjoy. I personally really like the show, and I highly recommend checking it out. You have literally no excuse not to, because it’s free to watch on YouTube!