Music by: Christian De Gré Cárdenas
Story by: Serrana Gay
Libretto by: Joseph Reese Anderson
Duration: 80 mins
Workshopped at the National Opera Center in NYC
Fatty Fatty No Friends original contemporary dark operetta is about a young boy
who is constantly teased for being overweight, is pushed too far, and decides to take horrifically delicious revenge on his bullies. A cautionary fable in the vein of Grimm’s Fairy Tales about the impact of bullying on both the tormented and the tormentor.
Tommy; chubby, tall, commanding presence, often teased, innocent, wide-eyed, sensitive, emotional; the boy who sits alone on the bus - Tenor
Emily; caring, studious, eager to fit in, bit of an odd duck, insecure, kind; the quirky girl who hasn't yet found her place in the world - Soprano
Feast, a voice in Tommy's head; a demonic manifestation of Tommy's hidden desires, darkness and rage. All consuming - Bass-baritone
Famine, a voice in Tommy's head; a demonic manifestation of Tommy's depression, isolation and fear. All depriving - Soprano
Bobby; valiant, fun, manipulative, eager, romantic; the charming guy who wants to impress - Baritenor
Sally; self-adoring, villainous, commanding, cunning, adored, imposing, deliciously mean; the popular girl with glossy lips who rules with an iron fist - Mezzo-soprano
Halle; sneaky, menacing, athletic, imposing; the girl who looks like the perfect student but is secretly torturing cats - Mezzo-soprano
Mark; weird, confident, abrasive, class clown, funny; the kid who proudly eats worms in the school yard - Tenor
Penny; short, excitable, fast, fierce, rides a red wagon that her twin brother Lenny pulls; the girl who pulls the fire alarm to watch a panic - Coloratura Soprano Lenny; tall, slow, jock, wears a kid leash that his twin sister Penny controls; the giant slumbering kid who hit puberty too soon - Bass
This modern operetta, created by composer Christian De Gré, lyricist Joseph Reese Anderson, and based on the original short story by author Serrana Gay, is a searing look at the damaging effects of bullying and the desperate struggle for popularity. It provides a grotesque depiction of the manner in which an injured soul can be pushed over the edge.
As the story starts, we are introduced to Tommy as he wakes up at home and laments not only his significant size but also the impending school day. His ode to elastic provides some short-lived levity in an otherwise dark tale. If we are honest with ourselves, the cruelty of children striving for acceptance is something we all remember well, regardless of whether we were the target of such derision ourselves or not. Tommy’s tale is no exception, and as Tommy boards the school bus, we are quickly introduced to Tommy’s alternate name: Fatty.
In fact, not one of the students with whom Tommy interacts knows his real name, with the exception of Emily, played by the adorable and capable Charly Dannis. Tommy’s self-image and self-confidence are ground into the dirt by the thoroughly imposing and authoritative Sally (Mia Thomas), whose lackeys echo her every sentiment. It seems that Tommy may finally break free from his crippling depression when Emily starts to genuinely befriend him, but alas, his skill as an artist actually spurs on Sally’s jealousy, causing her to sabotage the one friendship Tommy could have had. Sally plays upon Emily and Bobby’s insecurities, and Tommy is humiliated beyond what his fragile psyche can bear. From here, the story grows more grotesque (NOTE: this show is NOT recommended for young children!), as well as more metaphorical. There are child-shaped cookies, ghastly ghostly figures, suicidal implications, bright lights which would most likely be found at the end of a tunnel, and the ultimate lesson that one shouldn’t eat a bully, or anyone for that matter.
The orchestrations are complex and beautiful, and the lyrics, though sometimes repetitive, drive the message home aptly. Overall, Fatty is an operetta with tremendous heart, haunting melodies, engaging characters, gut-wrenching emotions, and valuable lessons, which should not be missed.