It’s Super Bowl Sunday, Broadway fans! That means absolutely nothing to the majority of us theatre fans… but this year, there is a bit of wonderful fun happening on Broadway to commemorate the big game. Nothing is bigger on Super Bowl Sunday than million-dollar commercials for movies and products that end up being more memorable than the sports ball game they interrupt. This year, instead of taking ad time out during the game, Skittles (yes, the fruity candy) is producing a one-act Broadway musical for a one-show-only performance at the Town Hall to benefit BCEFA. Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical is written by Drew Gasparini and Will Eno, and stars former Hedwig Michael C. Hall with Great Comet’s Lulu Fall and Groundhog Day’s Raymond J. Lee in featured ensemble parts, amongst others.
Ahead of the musical’s big debut, the fine folks at Skittles released a cast album on Spotify. I will be at the show when this article is published, so here for you now are my live reactions and thoughts while listening to the Original Cast Recording of Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical. Musical the Rainbow, Taste The Rainbow!
Track 1: “This Might Have Been a Bad Idea”, performed by Michael C. Hall
Guitar and piano. Michael C. Hall asks the listener if they’ve ever done a commercial dressed as an animal because his agent just made him do one in a cat costume for the Super Bowl. Very meta. “This might have been a bad idea,” he croons. “This could end my whole career.” The orchestrations are immensely propulsive as Michael sings about regretting this entire thing - “Thank you, Skittles, for ruining my entire liiiiiiife!!” he belts, reminding me vocally of a 1990s Adam Pascal. The ensemblists keep singing “what’s wrong with you?” at Michael as he keeps questioning what he’s doing and comparing it to other bad ideas (like vacationing in North Korea). The bridge gets plaintive as he eats Skittles in a grocery store, then he suddenly has a change of heart! The ensemble joins in as Michael realizes, “this could actually be a perfect choice! I can taste the rainbow and it makes my soul rejoice!” He lists things he could succeed in now that he’s confident the ad will be a good idea: Going on the Late Show! Winning a Tony! Winning a Nobel Prize! (The one for doctors, even!) Sharing Skittles with the Dalai Lama! He is quietly confident that this is indeed a great idea as the song concludes with some simple piano and guitar. This track is extremely funny and meta and I’m excited to see how it’s staged. Will Michael be in a cat costume? We can only wait and see… on to track 2!
Track 2: “Advertising Ruins Everything”, performed by Michael C. Hall and Ensemble
Organ and rock drums and piano. The ensemblists are disgruntled that they drove all the way from Jersey for this - “we were duped once again by a marketing stunt and Skittles are to blame!” A riff that sounds suspiciously like Defying Gravity leads into Michael defending his choice and defending advertising, because everyone loves watching ads during the big game. The ensemblists say they feel betrayed by the corporation - “Advertising ruins everything,” they sing in harmony. Michael sings in counterpoint defending advertising as the ensemble continues to sing the chorus. “It ruins the web and it ruins TV and it ruins our inbox with spam,” one ensemblist sings, “there’s nothing we hate more than each tiny paid-for ad that shows up on Instagram!” Michael just keeps defending himself as the ensemble keeps complaining. This is getting extremely meta. Michael suddenly gets very introspective - “what if they’re right? What if I ruin Broadway by being in this ad tonight?” Michael then vows to never make an ad as long as he’s an actor, as he joins into a stirring refrain of the chorus that brings to mind Les Mis. But oh no! Michael still somehow lapses back into ad-speak by the end, extolling the fruity flavors of Skittles… and the ensemble grows furious as the song reaches a sudden conclusion! This number goes through so much mood whiplash but man, the chorus is insanely catchy and Michael C. Hall continues to impress me with his rock vocals. The ensemble gets some witty and deep lyrics, and the orchestration is surprisingly rich. I can’t wait for track 3!
Track 3: “This Definitely Was A Bad Idea”, performed by Michael C. Hall and Ensemble
Sad piano intro turns into piano with sad violin accompaniment. Michael C. Hall is lamenting his choice of doing the ad. “Yes, I tasted the rainbow… a man learns what his limits are when he tries to be a superstar… but sometimes he ends up dead.” Oof. Between tracks 2 and 3, it seems like Michael was killed by the angry ensemblists and now he’s a chained-up ghost! How dark. “This definitely was a bad idea! I wasted 200 bucks to sit here!” sings the angry ensemble. Michael keeps pointing out that he’s dead as the ensemble laments further and further how bad of an idea this Skittles musical turned out to be. But suddenly, the ensemble learns that during the show, Skittles has been selling lots and lots of packs. The number then swiftly veers into “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen parody territory as the ensemble quickly spreads the good news and thanks Michael for sacrificing his life to raise Skittles sales. Victorious guitar riffs and anthemic harmony ensue as the ensemble celebrates Skittles selling lots of packs! A happy ending, I guess?
Track 4: “Four Minutes of Michael C. Hall Eating Skittles”, performed by Michael C. Hall and A Bag of Skittles
The title says it all. This is indeed just four minutes of Michael C. Hall loudly eating Skittles candy into the microphone and muttering in between handfuls of sweet fruity deliciousness. This is ostensibly a joke bonus track, but you know what? If you don’t have misophonia and like hearing Michael C. Hall’s voice, this is a silly little treat at the end of the cast album. It’s basically ASMR!
So, that was Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical’s cast album. It’s clever and funny satire with some insanely catchy choruses and riffs. If you’re a fan of musical theatre parody, this is definitely worth a listen. Let’s hope they film the performance today so people around the world can experience what I’m sure will be an unforgettable live Super Bowl ad.
Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical’s cast album is available to stream on Spotify.
(Image from Skittles)