Seedy is normally the last descriptor any new comedy wants to earn, but in the case of the new Broadway musical "Shucked," nothing is as consecrated as the kernel. The riotous new work, with a book by Robert Horn, nabs acoustic inspiration from country music and tonal humor from shows like "The Book of Mormon" and "Tootsie" (the latter of which Horn adapted for stage) to form a delirious production that treats a seasonal crop, corn, more like the second coming. And while it's nearly guaranteed that you will exit the Nederlander Theatre with no recollection of Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally's banjo-slinging score or Horn's tepid excuse for an empowering message, you will leave lighter, leveed by this production's astute self-awareness, hilarious cast and relentless commitment to the corn.
"Shucked" opens with a stark array of honky-tonk strums that transport us to Cobb County, a town "somewhere north of south and south of north." As those nonsensical cardinal directions imply, Cobb County is the kind of place that's proud of its obscurity. Rising rows of corn surrounding the town mean no one gets in or out, that is until the cardinal crop begins to wither. Maizy (played with Reba-levels of ginger-haired pluck by Caroline Innerbichler) is determined to save her town, so she defies her hard-working, husk-handling fiancÃ© Beau (an endearing Andrew Durand) and leaves to find help. Maizy believes she has found just that when she meets a charming "doctor" named Gordy (John Behlmann) in Tampa. But his ulterior motives have more to do with his love of the con than corn.