The first surprise is that Colma: The Musical plays it straight. You might imagine a musical about teenagers in a suburb south of San Francisco in which the majority of the population is dead to be an ironic tongue-in-cheek affair, using bursting-into-song conventions to poke fun at metastasizing franchise culture — Mallrats with a groove. (“Shakey’s is now iHop!” the news announces during the opening number.) But Colma doesn’t deflate or abuse the conventions of the musical; it relies on them to tell three heartbreakingly honest tales about growing up.
Colma: The Musical. Richard Wong, 2006. ****