Based on Bill Fitzhughs whacky novel about a bug exterminator mistaken for the worlds finest hit man, the show (with a book by John Jay Moores Jr.) explodes in an array of styles literary, visual and aural. Under James J. Mellons direction, lyricist-music arranger Scott DeTurk has adapted some intense melodies from Russias great 20th century composer Vladimir Shainskiy into a score that bounces with remarkable ease between Kurt Weill starkness, middlebrow pop and hip-hop. Creative director Eugene Caine-Epsteins multilevel set, with many inventive elements, is perfectly paired with Scott A. Lanes audacious costuming particularly in several fantasy sequences of infestation by 6-foot-tall cockroaches. All the technical elements are superb and scream to be moved into a large theater. Darren Ritchie, as the dorky exterminator, gives a brilliant performance, with a vocal range that meets demands, from Broadway belting to rapping. His characters love interest, played by Beth Malone, is also a powerhouse singer, and the two have great chemistry. This is essentially a high-priced workshop of a show gunning for New York, so some of its excesses may well be cut back. The only aspect that could land the producers in trouble is a group of Borat-style characters representing Latin American drug lords.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 25. Continues through June 8, 2008