Funny Money - Manhattan Express | Manhattan Express

Funny Money

Ralph Byers as Benjamin Franklin (foreground), with Brennan Caldwell as Abraham Lincoln, George Merrick as George Washington, and Sandra DeNise as Alexander Hamilton. | JEREMY DANIELS

BY DAVID KENNERLEY | The Broadway juggernaut “Hamilton” stunned critics and audiences alike by injecting new life into a musty, iconic American statesman well over 200 years old. So perhaps dramatist Peter Kellogg figured, why not create a musical promoting one of Hamilton’s equally brilliant and colorful contemporaries, Benjamin Franklin?

“Money Talks: The Musical,” which imagines a sage, wisecracking Franklin as a $100 bill come to life in modern times, is decidedly more “Spamilton” than “Hamilton.” With tongue planted firmly in ample cheek, this hodgepodge of a musical, crammed with intentionally corny song-and-dance ditties choreographed by Michael Chase Gosselin (who also directs), tries to be many things at once — love story, history lesson, political farce, and morality play. And while it doesn’t quite succeed on any of these fronts, it’s an admirable, charming diversion nonetheless.

Kellogg, who wrote the droll book and lyrics, has borrowed heavily from the daisy-chain format of “La Ronde,” Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play about overlapping couples that examined the politics of sex and class division. David Friedman composed the music while Ann Beyersdorfer designed the scenery.

Madcap romp about greed, lust, and regret, through the sensible lens of Ben Franklin

“Money Talks” follows Franklin’s rocky journey as he is passed from a Wall Street hedge funder to a sassy stripper to a redneck gambler to a wealthy socialite, and so on. Along the way, the sage offers advice about fiduciary and family matters, and questions his relevance in the modern world, which is even more obsessed with money than in his day.

In the opening number, Franklin cavorts with his compatriots Washington, Lincoln, and Hamilton, dressed as their respective bill denominations. “Men may claim they worship God, but I’m their true religion,” they sing, with equal measure of chagrin and rancor. The irony that these great men have been reduced to crude legal tender is not lost on them.

The spirited, four-person cast works hard to keep up with the challenges of multiple roles and lightning-quick scene changes. Ralph Byers (“The Music Man”) smartly embodies the lead Franklin role, doling out advice with ample wit and flair. Sandra DeNise nimbly juggles various female roles (as well as Hamilton at the top), and is a whiz at shifting her vocals to match. Her heartfelt delivery of the understated ballad “How Did I Fall So High” is a welcome, calm oasis in a frenzy of shenanigans. Brennan Caldwell and George Merrick, who play a dizzying range of characters both male and female, each has a breakout moment, as well.

The wildly uneven musical comedy has its share of highs and lows. I thoroughly enjoyed when a female lobbyist, about to hop into bed with a senator, grabs the founding father so she can roll him up and snort a line of coke. However, the scene with the swishy male hairdresser, who is faking gay to command higher prices, is as patently offensive as it is tone-deaf and should be cut. There’s also a scene where a gay male couple trying to adopt a child is insulted by a bigoted Southern bureaucrat that feels gratuitously shoehorned in and could be fleshed out further.

“Money Talks” is at its best as a reminder of just how genius — and prescient — the civic-minded philosopher actually was. We all know he co-authored the US Constitution and pioneered harnessing electricity. But I forgot that he was an ambassador to France, and established the first public hospital, library, and fire department in the American colonies. And invented all sorts of handy gizmos.

The musical is jam-packed with maxims that are so ingrained in American life we’ve forgotten he originated them. And no, not just the obvious ones like “A penny saved is a penny earned” and “Haste makes waste.”

“God helps those who help themselves” is not from the Bible, it’s Franklin. “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” is not Shakespeare, it’s Franklin. And “Eat to live, don’t live to eat?” Not Oprah — Franklin.

To its credit, this old-fashioned tuner strives for contemporary relevance. One number boasts alarming quotes from politicians, including Trump’s infamous tweet “The concept of global warming was by and for the Chinese.”

And today’s corrupt judicial system and the current gun control debate is tackled head-on. Franklin croons:

From his honor with no honor,
To his mistress, who’s a nun,
To her daughter, who’s an ex-marine
And wants to buy a gun.
And though she has traumatic stress,
A gun show sells her one.

The beleaguered man on the $100 bill admits they blundered with the vaguely worded Second Amendment, wishing they had written “the right to bear muskets” so America would be a much safer place today.

And then there’s my favorite aphorism from the show: “Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently and for the same reasons.”

MONEY TALKS: THE MUSICAL | Davenport Theatre, 354 W. 45th St. | Through Sep. 3: Mon.-Tue., Thu. at 7:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8:30 p.m.; Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. | $25-$100 at or 212-239-6200 | 100 mins., with no intermission

17 Responses to Funny Money

  1. WWMG September 6, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Nice threads on Ben Frank. A classic musical! Woodwork Media Group helps Musicians, Film Makers, and other business entities looking for media to showcase with their brand. Services consist of custom high quality Audio Visual Content , Creative Collaborations, and Music Licensing and Publishing.
    Hight Quality Beats and Instrumentals – From R&B and HipHop to Pop and Electronic.

  2. Debashish September 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for your facebook status updates. I love your all status updates. Can you please update more funny status for facebook . I am a big fan of you. I am waiting for your replay.

  3. FB status September 11, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for your Emotional status updates. I love your all status updates. Can you please update more Motivational status for facebook . I am a big fan of you. I am waiting for your replay.

  4. ClickApk September 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Welcome to the best android apk collection for you. Just stay with us for latest android apk collection only for you. clickapk also providing you latest android apps, themes, apk, games only for you.

  5. karimrafique October 17, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Funny Money, what a nice name

  6. Wealthy Millions October 23, 2017 at 10:27 am

    It is a very good production, great cast!

  7. Frances R. Gregory November 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    What a concept it was, so amazing and i just love to go through about it further. Money is what every one needs and , people work hard to get that in many ways. I was here online looking for professional resume companies to make my resume for job search. And fortunately got here.

  8. AR TOOLSS November 9, 2017 at 5:14 am

    wow nice post ..

  9. new year 2018 quotes November 14, 2017 at 9:53 am

    hahaha lol

  10. breaking news December 2, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Nice post admin! Amazing information. Would like to know more about it. Find out something interesting breaking news

  11. hurraystay December 10, 2017 at 1:59 am

    Happy New Year in Advance Good Article,a very helpful apps for the business people, business development Executives and managements to reach their clients etc.. Happy New Year Shayari Hindi

  12. Tez App for PC December 11, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    showbox not working
    showbox for iphone
    music paradise apk

  13. thesis December 23, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Thanks for sharing amazing information !!!!!!
    Please keep up sharing.

  14. Business help December 25, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Howdy all, I am another part to this gathering. I am functioning as a International business Consultant.

  15. Pingback: China’s Regional Cuisines — Chinese Food Types – Best Chinese Foods

  16. cinema box app January 16, 2018 at 1:33 am

    cinema box will help yu to watch free movies on any device whether it is chromecaste, kindle or any other.

  17. Alka May 4, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Glad to see your post, and hope things improve so we get some more posts to read!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ six = nine