A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant, produced by The Catalysts and playing at the New Century Theater, is a satirical musical about Scientology. It’s sharp and sweet. Performed in the style of an old-fashioned Sunday School pageant, an irony-free ensemble of seven young teenagers proclaim the origin story of L. Ron Hubbard and how he invented a religion. This “cult” musical (get it?) by Kyle Jarrow has a sleek book and breezy lyrics. The songs are instructive and repetitive in the manner of “Schoolhouse Rock”. The tunes are still running through my head, 3 shows and seven hours later. I now know the difference between the reactive mind and the analytical mind, what an engram is, and the story of Xenu.
The strength of this production is its buoyant young cast, under the direction of Whitney Rhodes. They keep up with the rapid pace of the show. One actor plays Hubbard, another portrays the pageant’s angel/ narrator, and the rest of the cast rotate through a variety of characters-including Tom Cruise. (And no. Don’t cry “spoiler”. It’s a satire about Scientology. Of course Tom Cruise makes an appearance).
And hats off to music director Jason Hanson for guiding them to sing in a healthy and natural way. Too often young singers are either taught to shout or they are over-miked. It’s bad for their voices, and it’s cloying to the audience. I would have preferred live accompaniment instead of a pre-recorded soundtrack.
The show is recommended for ages 7 and up. I would agree, as long as you explain what satire is before you go.