The new musical “Field Hockey Hot” is a hoot. It’s the first world premiere that the spunky 11th Hour Theatre Company has commissioned and produced, and it’s a winner – a show that asks only for smiles and laughter, and earns both.
“Field Hockey Hot,” about a girls’ high-school hockey team one game away from winning a world championship, is the creation of Michael Ogborn, the composer who’s written the lyrics and music to five People’s Light pantos, the Christmastime frolics that are a trademark of that company. For 11th Hour, a company devoted to boutique musicals, Ogborn writes the book as well as the music and lyrics.
The theme of “Field Hockey Hot”: No horseplay on slippery surfaces. Ignore that, and you might end up like the hockey team’s star goalie (Shannon Remley), in the hospital and confined to a full-body cast (the funny work of costume designer Amanda Wolff). For most of the show, Remley is bound up while a romp’s in full swing around her, and I nominate her as Best Actress Able to Use Only Her Face.
For the team’s coach, who’s out to validate herself with a world championship, this is a nightmare. So the coach (the terrific Jennie Eisenhower, in superb voice and impeccable comic timing) comes up with an All-American idea: Get a ringer. She finds one (perky, full-voiced Alex Keiper) at the local orphanage, run by her old rival Sister George Michael (Rob Tucker, in a great turn as a nun).
Everyone gets sucked into a conspiracy to win, which involves the coach’s son (Michael Philip O’Brien), a drug-looped doctor (Brendan Norton), a cool-cat judge (Alina John), an evil headmistress (Leah Walton), a snoopy nurse (Ali Wetzel) and a hockey player awakening to her sexuality (Sean C. White, one of several guys in drag sharing the hockey field with the gals). The other thing that ties them together: They sure can sing.
The songs are sprightly and often funny, and further the plot. Under the direction of one of 11th Hour Theatre Company’s co-founders, Megan Nicole O’Brien, the 100-minute show zips along without intermission on Ian Paul Guzzone’s design of slide-in scenery, and gets funnier as it becomes more goofy. O’Brien directs her troupe to make the best use of melodrama by taking it to the limit – the result mocks the style but celebrates it, too, and it neatly ramps up the script and the songs. The show’s “Pep Band” is a flashy quartet led by Dan Kazemi. As for me, there’ll be no more horseplay on slippery surfaces, that’s for sure.
“Field Hockey Hot,” produced by 11th Hour Theatre Company, runs through March 22 at the Adrienne, on Sansom Street between 20th and 21st Streets. 267-987-9865 or www.11thhourtheatrecompany.org.