Currently in residency at Peoples Improv Theater in downtown New York City, “PITS! The Unauthorized Holes Musical” is an uproarious comedy based off of Louis Sachar’s original 1998 novel, “Holes.”
Words, music and book all written by recent New York University graduate Noah Rauchwerk, the show embodies joy and positivity while also covering emotional ground that the entire audience is able to relate to. Even if viewers have not seen the movie or read the book, they will still enjoy this production of singing, dancing and hilarity.
David Thomas Cronin plays lead character Danley Yelnad on stage, who provided an emotional vulnerability with his performance that hit home throughout the show. Toward the end, there was a powerful ballad that made the audience’s jaws drop in amazement as he belted high notes and created such a beautiful sound. I thought to myself, “This could be the next Evan Hansen.”
The rest of the cast, including Savannah-Lee Mumford as the wicked warden and E.B. Hinnant as the sassy Mr. Man, was incredibly talented. They all brought a different aspect of themselves into their roles and proved that each character had their own specific qualities. This made them individually lovable and unlovable at times.
One of the best highlights of the musical was seeing the Yellow Dotted Lizard, played by Myles Phillips, because of his dapper Shakespearean-like performance.
The content of the show included catchy, exciting songs that had everyone in the room tapping their feet. To name a few, “Center of the World” and “ Fight” were some of my favorites. There were also joyous dance numbers and jokes that had me giggling for the entire 90 minutes. There were many references to contemporary pop culture, such as “Harry Potter” and “Friends” as well as musicals like “Hamilton,” “the Book of Mormon” and “Annie.”
At the same time, the fourth wall kept breaking, which made it even more enjoyable for the audience. Once or twice, the show literally stopped in its tracks so Danley could address the audience. Also, it was not one of those musicals where the other characters did not hear the singing that was going on. They actively acknowledged that it was a musical.
Each scene transition was made with background art created by Becca Schuchat projected on the back of the theater. This made it clear where the characters were and what was supposed to be happening, leaving little confusion. The actors used circular tan rugs as the holes that they were digging, a clever choice of prop use.
The theater itself is a very small black box with general admission seating, and every spot is a good one. A fun addition was the live band and pianist on the side of the stage.
“PITS! The Unauthorized Holes Musical” is a clever and wonderful off-Broadway production that will run every Tuesday evening until Nov. 28.