Chocolate, as we know, is really important. So it makes sense-- it's almost necessary-- that somebody has now created an off-Broadway musical about this wonder food, entitled (appropriately) The Chocolate Show!.
The premise of The Chocolate Show! is that the Chocolate Lovers Association of the World (CLAW) needs to select its newest Queen of the Cocoa Bean, as its previous Queen (played by actress and comedienne Emily McNamara) is being forced into retirement.
The next Queen/King of the Cocoa Bean will be an audience member, and volunteers get to compete for that honor by going up on stage for various feats of "talent," "intelligence," and "style." (If you go to the play, you will understand why these words are in quotation marks.)
PRO TIP: if you compete in one of these challenges, you will get a chocolate prize. Even if you lose. And you probably will lose, since, at least in the performance I saw, the winners of each contest were the adorable child competitors. Which makes sense, since they would be the most upset if they lost. Anyway, all I'm saying is that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, all that matters is that you throw your hat into the ring, that's how you get the chocolate prizes, so for God's sake raise your hand.
Incidentally, the prizes for each competition round are from Knipschildt, City Bakery, and 2Beans, which means we have tasted every chocolate prize at this musical. Also, every audience member gets a square of 2Beans chocolate just for walking in the door. And you will need it, because it's damn hard to watch an hour and a half of people singing and dancing about chocolate without needing to eat some yourself.
The audience participation scenes are alternated with scenes that humorously relay the history of chocolate, and musical numbers that celebrate familiar chocolate-eating experiences. Some of these musical numbers include "The New Wine," which is about the artisanal tasting craze surrounding chocolate (which I know I am guilty of with this blog), and "The Secret Life of Cupcakes," which about the challenging process of selecting a cupcake at a bakery.
My favorite out of all these numbers, hands down, was "Hot Chocolate," which is a vibrant ode to my favorite beverage, hot chocolate (of course). My feelings for hot chocolate are so deep and so strong, and this song perfectly encapsulates that. It also makes me wonder that in a world of love songs, nobody before has ever managed to capture the love a human being feels for hot chocolate. You can listen to a clip here.
The plot is thin, and there's little in the way of character development or narrative tension. But it is a fun show with great energy, and it goes by quickly, peppered with small bits of humor and wisdom, such as the Queen of the Cocoa Bean's comment, "As far as I'm concerned, if it's chocolate, it's a meal" (so true), and CLAW's motto: "Everyone deserves chocolate." It would be an excellent show to take older children to (not least because they might get to win a crown), and it's fun for adults, too. I just wouldn't suggest taking anyone who doesn't like chocolate. They wouldn't understand.
The Chocolate Show! is open now and runs for the next two months at the 47th Street Theater.
BOTTOM LINE: Everyone deserves chocolate!
P.S. Photo credits in this post go to the show itself--you can view more stills from the musical on their website.