Photo by Don Kellogg

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perfect Harmony

A gleeful (pun intended) trip down the high school vocal club lane.  Andrew Grosso and The Essentials (a group of other actors and singers) penned a little glee-club-like drama back in 2006 (before there was Glee).  Unfortunately, the comparisons today abound.  And unfortunately for the stage show today, Fox television and their million dollar production budget does it much better.   Let me be clear - this is not a prequel to the TV series, just a similar concept.

Frankly, I enjoyed this stage production immensely.  First of all, it's primarily about the Acafellas (an all boys a-cappella singing group), not a glee-club that miraculously transforms into a full stage and recording studio production event periodically throughout the show.  Am I a bit tired of the over-the-top "camp" with the singing stuff - yeah, maybe.  But if you can put the constant comparisons to today's TV hit, you just might find this stage production storyline quite enjoyable.

Make no mistake, this show is cast with actors who can sing.  In contrast, another recent a-cappella off-Broadway show, In Transit,  took the opposite approach - a-cappella group singers who can act.  I think it makes a big difference in your musical and theatrical experience.  On a related note, I'm not sure if I should call this a comedy (as the broadwayworld.com does), a play with music, or a musical.  But I digress...

The cast, as expected,  is composed of a wonderfully eclectic, quirky, and off-beat group of high school vocal mis-fits with an wide assortment of social, medical, and family problems - one hot jock who sings (Jarid Faubel), one groovy black girl (Kelly McCreary), one prim and proper white girl (Dana Acheson) one Asian girl with Tourette's (Marie-France Arcilla), two boys clearly from rich families as evidenced from the roman numerals after their names (Robbie Collier Sublett and Kobi Libii), one uber-geeky freshman (David Barlow), one extremely shy girl who is obsessed with people looking at her (Faryl Amadeus), one boy who doesn't speak and only sings (Clayton Apgar), and one Herzegovinian orphan (Kate Morgan Chadwick) ... along with a multitude of alternate characters the actors take on to round out the storyline.  What brings them all together?  Music and singing.  Do we recognize any of them in ourselves?  Without a doubt.  Do we laugh at them?  Absolutely.   Do we enjoy the pop songs they turn into a-cappella performances?  Immensely.

Take in a performance of this tuner over at Theatre Row in the Acorn Theatre and you might just walk away humming a few popular tunes in a whole new way.