What's it about?
Real Men is a sort of sketch comedy musical that loosely follows the story of a man as he learns and follows a book that show him the "10 steps to being a real man."
What'd I experience?
From the start I was really excited to see the show. One of the first things I had heard about it was that Jason Alexander is a huge fan and gave it a ton of praise. If George Costanza thinks that the show is awesome, then I knew that I am going to have a great time. Add that onto the fact that I was seated dead center and only two rows away from the stage, my anticipation skyrocketed. The venue, New World Stages, was a great spot too. It was close enough to Times Square for it to be easy to get to, but also far enough away to avoid any crowds and slow moving people that you need to walk through.
By the time the first song was over, I was hooked. It was not only really catchy and fun (and still stuck in my head, along with most of the other songs) but was really funny. Instead of going the expected route of what a "real man" is, it said that real men are faulted, silly, sing show tunes, and play with puppets. That really spoke to me, not because I'm faulty or anything, but because I have a deep appreciation and love for things that involve puppets.
Speaking of puppets, the show not only had way more puppets than I was expecting (which probably doesn't sound like a good thing, but it's something I want) but the variety of puppets was awesome. They had a few of the typical Sesame Street style puppets with arm and sticks, some finger puppets, a few hand puppets, but most impressively, had a giant 10 foot Death puppet singing and dancing along the stage during the "Mortality Blues" song. I was hysterical but at the same time astonished by how cool it looked moving around and dancing. I really was not expecting there to be as much amazing puppetry or even just puppets from a show about being a real man. It was all just an immensely pleasant surprise.
Like I previously said, the show followed that basic structure of "10 Steps to Being a Real Man," which included steps like "appreciate your woman" or "take time to reflect," and each step had about 3-5 skits in it with each step having a musical number. That's something I really enjoy by the way, when a show has the word musical in the title and then actually has a ton of music in it. I feel like if it doesn't then it's just false advertising.
But anyway, aside from the structure of the steps, the show also followed an aging structure, and as we got further and further into the steps more age related skits and songs were showing up. My favorite one having to deal with that was the "Middle Aged Man" skit, where there was a superhero named Middle Aged Man about to stop a robber, but was also dealing with loss of hearing, tennis elbow, and having to call his wife to explain to her how to watch a DVD.
These were all very funny, but there were also a few really deep and meaningful songs, like "I Do" where a guy questions why he got married and then realizes it's because he truly loves his wife, or "I Will Be There or You" where it's three men thanking their fathers for what they did for them throughout their lives and it was very touching (I would have probably shed a tear if the theater wasn't so packed). It reminded me to not only enjoy the fun in life but appreciate and reflect on what means a lot to you.
Another thing that I loved about the show was these sort of intermission sketches they would have where they would sing and talk about how "Men Are the Happier Gender." The sketches took place in a church made only for men, and during their gatherings they would read phrases from their holy scripture, The Book of More Men. These phrases were all various reasons as to why men are so much happier - some reasons being obvious jokes while others being scarily accurate. The jokes they told were funny enough, but every time they held up the book I would laugh at the insanely bad pun and I am not ashamed to admit that.
The last thing that I probably should mentioned was that the entire cast was only 3 men playing a variety of different characters. It's probably difficult switching between many different characters, so whenever I see it I'm just amazed. They each played anything from men, to women, little boys and little girls, the grim reaper, ballerina prairie men, and even a giant penis (out of context it sounds weird, but trust me it made sense).
I just really enjoyed how unexpected yet expected this show was. The whole thing definitely went a route that I was not expecting with the whole puppets thing, but it did include a bunch of typical man humor. It even had a whole song about men's room urinal etiquette, which is a serious problem that need more attention. Always leave one urinal of space in between each other, and always look straight ahead.