The Last Smoker in America is a rock musical set in a dystopian future in which political correctness has run utterly amuck. Smoking has been banned, the CEO’s of the tobacco companies have all been taken out and shot, and anyone caught smoking a ciggy will be locked up in Smokers’ Prison for the rest of their lives… for their own good. Read More...
Selections from The Last Smoker in America
Smoker is a musical farce, a slightly psychotic portrait of a deeply dysfunctional family. The New York audiences loved it during its 2012 Off-Broadway run. The blogosphere loved it, too. My mother… kind of loved it, but didn’t really get “If It Feels This Good It Must Be Bad,” a song that takes place during the course of a simulated sexual encounter that somehow involved a snorkel and a can of PAM Cooking Spray.
What Mom flipped over was the New York Times review, which included the statement, “Peter Melnick’s pop-rock score is terrific, with multiple catchy melodies that will stick in your head like peanut butter.” She thought that was pretty swell, and sent me a case of Skippy’s Extra Chunky Peanut Butter to celebrate. (Really cool gesture - thanks, Ma - but six years later, I still haven’t made much of a dent in the peanut butter supply.) More important, the Smoker cast recording would not have been recorded without Linda Emory’s financial contribution, for which I am truly thankful.
August 2, 2012
The Westside Theatre
Producers: Andy Sandberg, Whitney Hoagland Edwards, Michael Palitz, and Stephanie Rosenberg
Book and lyrics by Bill Russell
Music by Peter Melnick
Directed by Andy Sandberg
Music direction, arrangements and orchestration: Fred Lassen
Choreography: AC Ciulla
Sets: Charlie Corcoran
Lighting: Jeff Croiter and Grant Yaeger
Sound: Bart Fassbinder
Production Stage Manager: Pamela Eddington
Ernie - John Bolton
Pam - Farah Alvin
Jimmy - Jake Boyd
Phyllis - Natalie Venetia Belcon
The Last Smoker in America has the spark of a smokin’-hot new musical… Peter Melnick’s pop-rock score is terrific, with multiple catchy melodies that will stick in your head like peanut butter. Bill Russell’s lyrics have their moments too, particularly in the deliciously tasteless songs “If It Feels This Good” and “I Wanna Call You.”
– Catherine Rampell, The New York Times
Russell has an ear for a quick one-liner and Melnick's gifts as a composer are considerable. When Russell's book settles into a sort of genial sitcom mode, it actually can be charming, and Melnick has turned out a couple of lovely ballads, particularly "You're the Only Friend I've Got," in which all of the characters pay tribute to their respective addictions.
– Andy Probst, TheaterMania
George S. Kaufman once responded with, when asked the definition of a satire, “Satire is what closes on Saturday night.” Well, I have news for George. If the audience’s response last Saturday to The Last Smoker in America was any indication, this often hilarious socio-political satirical musical farce (yes, it’s all of that) should be around for many Saturday nights to come. Give or take a few breathers, this is a deliriously absurdist romp into the future as (scarily) imagined by collaborators Bill Russell (book and lyrics) and Peter Melnick (music). The songs are bright, the lyrics are goofy and the story is nutty.
Russell, whose excellent book for the provocative Side Show earned him a Tony nomination has a compatible collaborator in shared lunacy with Melnick, who composed the Drama Desk-nominated score for the Off Broadway musical Adrift in Macao. With obvious relish, they have written a show that ridicules over-zealous government intervention in our lives and its effect on an already dysfunctional family.
– Elyse Sommer, Curtain Up
A freedom-loving musical! If critics get insulted, then the musical has proven its point: America’s just way too uptight!
– Entertainment Weekly
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