There’s no crying in baseball, or at Rockwell Table & Stage, where the Unauthorized Musical Parody of A League of Their Own is currently hitting a home run. The latest entry in the venue’s popular UMPO (Unauthorized Musical Parody Of) series, created and written by Kate Pazakis, this funny take on the popular 1992 film amps up the feminist aspects of the movie with a ridiculously talented primarily female cast.
A League of Their Own is set in 1943, at the height of World War II. It tells the story of two sisters, Dottie (Natalie Masini) and Kit (Amanda Kruger), who join the first all-female professional baseball league. This production is the directorial debut of UMPO veteran Emma Hunton and feels like one of the best uses of the unique Rockwell space yet. New video screens add an extra element to the production, and the cast sings a variety of popular songs by artists including The Bangles, Queen, Bon Jovi, Shania Twain, and, of course, Madonna.
As always, this parody lovingly pokes fun at its source material, sticking close to the story of the film while choosing elements to emphasize. The story is bookended by appearances from director Penny Marshall (Gina D’Acciaro), reminding the audience that this movie marked the first time any woman ever directed not one, but two movies that grossed over $100 million at the box office. As Dottie, the team’s star player who is also beautiful and the subject of envy in every way, Masini, who was a standout in Scissorhands at Rockwell, is perfectly cast, strutting around the stage with a dazzling smile. Kruger is hilarious as her younger sister, frustrated by constantly living in her big sister’s shadow, both literally and figuratively. They duet on Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac’s “Edge of Seventeen” and “Go Your Own Way” before the climactic final game showdown that pits them against each other.
Katie Powers takes on Mae, the role originated by Madonna, and gets to show off her voice and her impressive flexibility on a mash-up of “Like a Prayer” and “Like a Virgin.” As Mae’s best friend, Doris, Molly Stilliens gets a chance to shine on a rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” D’Acciaro is a scene-stealer as the intimidating Marla Hooch, and Nohely Quiroz is both funny and affecting as Betty Spaghetti, who gets some bad news about her husband’s fate overseas during the act one closer, “Blackbird” by the Beatles. Garrett Marshall is great as Jimmy Dugan, a former baseball star in his own right who initially thinks an all-female league is a joke. He sings a hilarious spoof on Kim Carnes’s “Bette Davis Eyes” that becomes, of course, “Geena Davis Eyes” as the rest of the cast dresses up as Davis’s other iconic roles. Rounding out the cast is Emerson Boatwright as Jon Lovitz, the team’s scout and recruiter.
The spirit of this show is just so fun, and, as always, interactive. Audience members are pulled for many tasks, including to play Doris’s cheating ex and Marla’s new love. The cast is constantly in motion, swinging baseball bats and singing songs like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” One of the most clever musical moments is a mash-up of both The Four Seasons and Fergie’s versions of “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” two very different songs that hilariously share a title—it makes you wonder how they haven’t been combined before. Seeing these badass women singing their faces off and celebrating a classic feminist movie is a real treat, and further proof that the UMPO series keeps upping the ante and bringing the fun.
The Unauthorized Musical Parody of A League of Their Own runs through September 29th at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with an afternoon brunch show on Sundays. Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased here. The running time is one hour and 50 minutes, including one intermission. Please note that Rockwell policy also requires a 2 item minimum purchase of food and/or drinks per person, and these items can be enjoyed during the performance. UMPO shows are often double cast, so the performers mentioned in this review will not appear on all dates. For more information about this show and upcoming shows, follow @umposeries on social media.