Mike Reiss Does Not Hate (Every) Musical
Mike Reiss wants you to know he does not hate musicals.
That being said, the title of his latest stage show is "I Hate Musicals: The Musical," which has its world premiere at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Essex Sept. 27 to Oct. 15.
"I love musicals," says Reiss from the 51st floor of the panoramic Midtown New York apartment he shares with his wife, Denise. "It's theater I hate."
That kind of bracing humor with an ear cocked to life's absurdities is reflected in the comedy that Reiss has been generating as writer-producer of "The Simpsons" for decades, as the creator of the cult animated series "The Critic" and "Queer Duck," as screenwriter for such films as "Ice Age" and "The Simpsons Movie" and as author of children's books such as "Murray Saves Christmas," which was recently made into a TV holiday musical perennial.
Despite his alleged hate-on for what he considers "awful theater," the Bristol native enjoys writing for the stage most of all. His comedies include "I'm Connecticut," which had its world premiere at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, and "Comedy Is Hard," which bowed at the Ivoryton Playhouse.
A new work called "Shakespeare's Worst," which premiered in Bristol, England, this summer, centers on "a spear-carrier" in one of Shakespeare's plays doing a running commentary on the play as it goes along — think of "Mystery Science Theater" meets "Two Gentleman of Verona."
Reiss says he loved the musicals "The Producers," "Natasha and Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812," "In the Heights" and even "a bad production" of "The Music Man" that lifted his spirits after 9/11. He admits to getting misty-eyed at an eighth-grade production of "Fiddler on the Roof." "And I'll bet I'll even like 'Hamilton,' which I'll eventually see — when it gets to the half-priced tickets booth."