“Tomfoolery” celebrates music of Tom Lehrer

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com



“Tomfoolery” is a satirical musical based off of a compilation of songs by Tom Lehrer. It ran at the Stopgap Theatre from Aug. 7 to Aug. 10. According to Tammi Doyle, the show’s director, Linn Bartel, Brian Olliver, Cristian Lopez, Charlie Schuster and Amber Vineberg will star in the musical along with Andy Davison, musical director at Bellevue College.
According to IMDb, Tom Lehrer was born on April 9, 1928. He was accepted into Harvard at age 15, and had a master’s in mathematics by the age of 19. He worked as a teacher of mathematics at Harvard, MIT and Wellesley, however, he is best known as a satirist and songwriter. Most of the songs were written in the 1950s and ‘60s and lampooned everything from mathematics to pollution to politics. It was from songs like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” “The Masochism Tango” and “The Vatican Rag” that “Tomfoolery” was spawned, according to MTIShows.com. The show was first run on June 5, 1980. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, it saw a successful run on Broadway, and a second run off of Broadway a year later.
Tomfoolery is a small show, requiring as little as four actors, four stools and a piano. It continues to attract audiences to this day, and according to Tammi Doyle, this showing should be no different. “The material is smart and funny and disturbing and relevant – and fun,” stated Doyle. “The cast has been working on the music, lyrics, text and staging since we started the first week of the quarter. We hope for a full house of 40 or so each night. Personally, I’ve smiled every day of the show.” Despite the success of the show in the past and the praise that is given to it, there are some drawbacks to performing satire after its time. “Satire depends on context, and we are trying to supply that context within the show,” continued Doyle. “Despite its age, some of [the show’s] material is still very, very true.” The author himself is likely a large part of the show’s previous success. He has received praise from a diverse group ranging from a presidential aide to the cast of Dr. Demento. Doyle is included in those ranks, making comparisons between Lehrer and the well- known creators of the TV series “South Park.” “Tom Lehrer was a musical satirist who wrote most of his songs in the late 1950’s and 1960’s.  As with other satirists, [the material] is both really funny and thoughtful.”
Tickets for the show cost
$10 for students and $12 for the general public. According to the show’s page on the Bellevue College website, up to 40 people viewed the show in each running with the show being open to everyone age 12 and older. In addition, cake and Italian sodas were served cabaret- style to the audience free of charge during the show.