“I’m Not Leaving This Office Until You Finance Throw Momma From the Train: The Musical,” by Greg Landgraf

Feb 26th, 2020 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Broadway producers are always on the lookout for the Next Big Thing, and I’ve got it for you: Throw Momma From the Train: The Musical. Everybody loves the late ‘80s, and everybody loves musicals, and everybody wants to murder old ladies, so this is a sure-fire hit.

Our big opening number (“Humid”) will depict Larry’s struggle writing the first line of his new book. What was the night like? Hot! And humid! Wet! And Hot! Dry! But Raining! Foggy! Or Not! As the song progresses, we’ll add voices and before long the full company will have joined in, symbolizing his obsession and his descent into madness. Picture Sondheim, with a touch of Rodgers, a dash of Webber, and a soupçon of Ebb.

Next we’ll meet Lester, Larry’s black best friend who often borrows clothes from Larry but hasn’t noticed yet that Larry is divorced. This scene will set up Larry’s big I Wish number (“Slut!”), contrasting Larry’s yearning to be free of the specter of his ex-wife’s plagiarism with Lester’s obliviousness and need for a green shirt.

Larry meets Owen while teaching a class full of terrible writers. Owen gets his own I Wish number (“Clumsy Poop”) here, but we’ll give it a twist. While Owen’s singing about how he dreams of being free from Momma’s tyranny, she magically pops into the scene, piling abuse on him for being a lard-ass who has no friends and brings her unsalted nuts that make her choke. And at the end, Momma can knock both Owen and Larry out with one swing of a frying pan!

Incidentally, Larry’s class is going to be a gold mine for killer songs. Take the woman who specifies over and over that the good guys foiled the bad guys again—make that the chorus and it’ll be the biggest earworm you’ve ever heard. Or “100 Girls I’d Like to Pork”—that’s begging to be a pop hit like “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” but bigger, because there are twice as many women and it has way more sex. We’ll sprinkle these throughout the show to give the audience some breathing room and give the leads time for costume changes, water breaks, fingering, and blow.

After seeing a Hitchcock film, Owen devises his plan to swap murders, and you already know the one song that can possibly convey all the intrigue of this moment: “Cha-Cha Slide” by DJ Casper. You know the one. “Sli-i-i-ide to the left… Sli-i-i-ide to the right… Criss Cross! (I kill your wife!) Criss cross! (You kill my momma!)” Big dance number, full ensemble, curtain down, intermission, audience has something to hum while they’re taking a piss.

These days, we recognize that Larry and Owen’s all-consuming hatred for the women they blame for their problems is textbook toxic masculinity, but my plan for Momma will satisfy even the most socially just social justice warrior. We’ll cast a 22-year-old ingenue who can belt an F above high C and put her in old-age makeup, but in the first scene after intermission (“Momma Loves Owen”), she wipes it all off and exposes her breasts so we can see the strong woman Momma sees herself as, rather than the demon Owen makes her out to be.

Of course, Owen’s not really a monster either, which we can demonstrate in the tender scene where he shows Larry his coin collection. They’ll bond over a gentle ballad (“My Coin Collection”), where Owen sings about polishing his penny and bonding with his daddy and rubbing Washington’s head for luck.

We don’t want to descend into schmaltz, though, so we’ll juxtapose Owen’s song with a scene where Larry’s ex-wife calls her agent while having sex with her gardener in Hawaii. She’ll join Owen in a distant duet using all the same phrases Owen uses to describe his coins, only she’s using them to describe the things she wants her gardener (or maybe her agent) to do to her.

In the climactic scene, everyone’s on a train, Momma thinks Larry’s trying to kill her, and she runs through a bingo game to try to escape (“He’s Trying to Kill Me!”). Obviously, the bingo game is another dance number—a bingo ballet, if you will, that seamlessly blends ballroom, tap, swing, jazz, and krumping techniques.

But we need spectacle, and I know just how to do it. Broadway fans love things that fly—the helicopter from Miss Saigon, the flying witches from Wicked, even the carpet from Aladdin. In this production, we’re going to make the entire train fly. Will Larry, Momma, Owen, bingo-players, or even Lester fall to their splattery death? Audiences will be on the edge of their seats to see. And if we work at it, we might even top Spider-Man’s injury rate!

Look, before long somebody is going to remember that Throw Momma from the Train exists, and they’re going adapt it into a musical, and they’ll make millions of dollars. That person might as well be you, because I’m here, and I’m not leaving until it is.


Greg Landgraf has written and produced musicals about evil unicorns and a going-out-of-business sale at a brothel. You may have seen his non-humorous writing in magazines about furniture-making, libraries, road construction and maintenance, or minor-league Renaissance Faires. (He was paid for three of those.) He recently moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., for a job he hopes still exists. See greglandgraf.wordpress.com or twitter.com/@groovesplat.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.