In a crowded West Hollywood bar, amid the cocktails and conversation, a group of patrons burst forward, recreating the entire staging of “Defying Gravity” from Broadway’s Wicked. No, it’s not a flash mob, it’s not even a drag show, it’s just another Musical Monday.
At 9 on a night where most other venues have only a handful of people, hosts a packed crowd, but instead of dancing to the latest Beyonce or Gaga tunes, Musical Monday patrons are jamming to videos of old-school Chita Rivera performances and this year’s Tony Award nominees.
New York transplants Ryan O’Connor and Scott Nevins brought Musical Mondays to West Hollywood two years ago, and the event has become immensely popular among musical theater fans who flock to the bar to find kindred spirits.
“What I love is it is one of the few nights that there is no attitude anywhere in the room,” Nevins said. “It’s a really friendly crowd.”
So friendly, in fact, that a handful of them met by chance one Monday and now call themselves the Fans of MuMo (MuMo being short for Musical Mondays).
“None of us knew each other until we started coming here,” said Bobby Beus, one of the Fans of MuMo. “There was a bar fight, it was a little like West Side Story [and we bonded over that.]”
The Fans of MuMo—including a subgroup called The Bear Jamboree— has now grown into a group of more than a dozen regulars who sit like the Pink Ladies from Grease in their designated corner and lip sync to many of the musical theater performances played by VJ Keith Jacobson every Monday night.
“We don’t pay them, but they come every week,” Nevins said. “They know all the videos and perform them and act them out. It’s really fun.”
Around 10 p.m. the entertainment shifts from videos to a live show usually hosted by O’Conner and Nevins that is headlined by musical theater talent and features audience contests with prizes. All of it provides vital opportunities for local theater productions to promote their shows.
On Monday, Erich Bergen—currently performing in The Temperamentals at the Blank Theater—was the headliner and patrons willing to sing a Broadway song in the style of Cher won either his CD or tickets to The Emancipation of Alabaster McGill at T.U. Studios in North Hollywood.
“I’m going to come back and do more [promoting] here,” said publicist Mike Pingel, who was in attendance with some of the cast members of Alabaster McGill to promote the show. “The people who put it together are so supportive of the theater. It’s a great place to be.”
The Fans of MuMo are also getting involved in helping promote the theater community. Starting this summer, the members will be using their website to offer discounted tickets, as well as promote and review productions in West Hollywood and the Greater Los Angeles area.
Musical Mondays will also be commemorating its upcoming two-year anniversary with an “all-star” lineup of performances, but for the members of the Fans of MuMo it is more about the people sitting next to them at the bar than who they watch on the stage.
“There’s nothing like this anywhere in the city. Gay, straight, whatever—if you love musicals then you need to be here because if you love musicals then we love you as well,” Beus said before joining the entire bar—and the video of Elaine Stritch performing “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company—in screaming, “Another vodka stinger!”