Just Say … Noah?


"The Ark" of triumph?

Sounds good to Joe Baker, musical and orchestration director of off-Broadway's singular two-by-two offering at the 37 Arts Theater, where "Just say Noah" takes on implications that Nancy Reagan probably never considered.

"Animal House" for the new millennium? "It's more about Noah and his family in crisis," says Baker, "and what it's like to share one boat for four months."

The "Love Boat" it's not. But what do you expect when you jam giraffes and elephants into a ship with no trunk space?

Comedy, for one. And sincere belief in the power of faith another: "The story we are telling is how to hold on to faith when the end is near."

It's only just begun for Baker; the show had its official opening just nights ago. Forty days and 40 nights – he's hoping it'll run even longer than that.

The only storm on the horizon was … the storm on the horizon. "We started rehearsals at the time that Hurricane Katrina was bearing down" on the nation, says Baker.

Prophetic? The musical has been flooded with implications: "All these natural disasters – Katrina, Rita, Wilma – and the man-made ones – the Holocaust – challenge us to see what we will do in the face of ultimate survival."

The music man's been doing pretty well for himself. The former Philadelphia resident has a Baker's dozen of accomplishments, including musical visits to the mountains ("Catskills on Broadway"); to Oz ("Wicked"); and even the North Pole ("Radio City Christmas Spectacular") – an unusual stocking filler for a nice Jewish guy.

But that résumé's also been mad and hot about dancing: His work for "Mad Hot Ballroom" may very well choreograph an Oscar in his direction early next year.

But that's next year; for now, he's picking up on – not after – the animals aboard the "Ark."

And what about Noah and Mrs. Noah? Talk about odd couples when you talk twosomes: "Definitely a Jewish family," he jokes. "Definite mishugas."

What he's especially crazy about is "the musical's universality," crediting the score by Michael McLean.

And what could be more universal than … sex?

That'll be Baker's next step once the rain stops: "It's Just Sex," which he calls "a bunch of 'Saturday Night Live'-type sets. It's all more comic than vulgar."

From two-by-two to … who knows how many?

Talk of career arcs: Just what would Noah say?


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