Broadway is taking a risk—on a musical about insurance.
“Insurance: The Musical” opens this week in New York after a successful tryout last September in Hartford. It is Broadway’s first musical exploration of the property/casualty insurance industry, according to Broadway historians.
It’s no Lion King but it’s surprisingly entertaining. It’s like Mama Mia meets West Side Story meets C.S.I. with plenty of greed, corruption, sex, bureaucracy and dancing.
The plot revolves around a team of lawyers and doctors who stage car accidents for insurance money. They own several medical clinics and auto body shops.
Two ambitious insurance company investigators are onto them and determined to break-up their fraud ring.
The drama begins with the sounds and smells of a car crash and sirens off-stage; the curtain then rises to reveal the scene of devastation and injury. Following the rescue and clean-up operations, two insurance characters arrive on the scene looking like FBI agents. That’s when the singing begins, with the duet titled “Third Responders.”
Mr. Don Summers, known for his work as the “mayhem guy” on TV, plays an insurance agent, Dougie, whose carrier insured various body parts of the actress injured in the crash. Mr. Summers reveals himself to be quite the talented song and dance man in the “Third Responders” number and later provides a glimpse of his softer side in his solo, “The Credit Score Song.”
Dougie’s insurance partner in fraud-fighting is Shirley, a foul-mouthed private eye/claims adjuster and scorned predictive model. Shirley is played by Ms. Sophie Courtesy, known for her work as Flo in TV ads. Ms. Courtesy brings an anxious intensity, transparent toughness and annoying arrogance to her role. She has an unmistakable voice (Ethel Merman lives!) that shakes the rafters and she nearly brings down the house during her solo, “I Put the Cuss in Customer Service.”
Unfortunately, she dances like she has gum on her shoes.
For the bulk of the play, the two insurance pros pursue several false leads that take the audience into a seedy underworld of medical and insurance back offices until, eventually, they get their case before a jury in a fraud trial set in an auto body shop.
When they are not on the trail of the fraudsters, Dougie and Shirley are falling in love and processing claims forms, which they demonstrate can be more fun than anyone imagined, especially when it is done to the hip-hop ditty, “Red Flags.”
Jackie Boot stars as the fraud kingpin, Dr. Pill, a Harvard-educated doctor who runs medical clinics and recruits grandmothers who drive stolen cars into utility poles and claim back injuries.
His sidekick, Rex Ottos, runs the body shops that produce inflated estimates of auto damage.
The musical score has a few songs that could stand on their own including “Fraud Ring on Her Finger,” “Actuary, Act Your Age,” “Adjust This” and “Body Shop Boogie.”
Hours after the show’s complimentary spiked Snapple had worn off, this reviewer found himself chanting little gems from the production like, “She was only 42 but her grandkids thought her cool, as she drove a new car everyday to drop them at school…”
And, “I won’t lie to you, I know you’re poor, honey. Crash this car and get a lot more money…”
It’s a shame the other half-dozen musical numbers sound like big-band versions of the “On Your Side” jingle.
Investors believe this show could find a large audience and perhaps put some men in Broadway seats along with the women for a change.
“If they can make a musical out of Rocky, they can do this,” said the show’s underwriter, known for the blockbuster, “Wall Street: The Musical,” which enjoyed a long run before it was shut down by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“Insurance: The Musical” runs only one day, today, April Fools Day.
Tickets are $75 but after 15 minutes, you can save 15 percent. Everybody knows that.