Last month, Dan and I saw one of the first performances of Duck Commander the Musical, which had its premiere at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.
The musical is based on Willie and Kori Robertson's autobiography, The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family and Ducks Built a Dynasty. Willie is the son of Phil Robertson, who grew up poor in Louisiana and found success when he invented a realistic sounding duck caller for hunters. His son, Willie, went to college and used his business savvy to take the family business to the next level, which included the reality show, Duck Dynasty.
I don't hunt and I've never seen an episode of Duck Dynasty. Prior to the musical, I only had a vague idea about the Roberston family. It was mostly "those guys with the gross beards" and the controversy with Phil involving his biblical rants. I heard about the musical the week before I was heading to Vegas to join Dan on the last few days of his business trip. I'm a huge musical theatre fan and my gut told me that this was going to be a special show
I loved it!
I don't just mean love it. Bigger. I love it so much that it's my new favorite musical.
It's hilarious, unexpected and filled with catchy songs. The cast, many Broadway veterans, were top notch. I don't think that I've ever seen a show with so much energy radiating off of the cast. The entire ensemble was fantastic, but standouts were Ginna Claire Marie as Kori and Jesse Lenat as Uncle Si. Lenat had me laughing so hard that my stomach ached. When the audience left the theatre, after giving a standing ovation, the vibe was thrilled and energized. I don't think that there was a single person in the room who didn't love the show as much as I did.
I even thought that we had just witnessed the next big Broadway, Tony grabbing sensation. I was completely gobsmacked to learn that the show is closing early.
I can think of two issues. First, the venue is odd and Vegas is even odder. This is very much a show for musical theatre lovers and it's jammed with musical references. Although it was done with the blessing of the Roberston family and they even appear in it via video, I don't think that it's aimed at fans of their show.
The other issue, is that people don't like the Robertsons, especially the liberal, artsy crowd that is the target audience. I think that people might not want to give it a chance because of the Robertson name and their preconceived ideas about the show. The name might make it seem cheesy or that the show is a joke. It's their loss though, this is simply a wonderful musical. It's engaging and heartfelt.
I really hope that it is picked up by another venue and played to a wider audience. If it doesn't, it has fizzled before it even had a chance and that's a huge shame.
After the show we perused the highly themed gift shop, with its camo wallpaper and orange deer head sculptures. I bought a "Let Em See You in Your Camouflage" tee-shirt, named for a song that the Kori sings to Willie, regarding being true to yourself. Dan went home with a Duck Caller, which works fine ( freaks out our cats) and was cheaper than the real deal sold in the Bass Pro Shops.
If you have a chance, make sure to see Duck Commander Musical in Las Vegas before it closes and keep your fingers crossed that it finds another home where it can take flight.