Book by Kevin Del Aguila
Music and Lyrics by Gary Adler & Michael Patrick Walker
Directed by Richard Hopkins
Florida Studio Theatre, Mainstage
Moves to Gompertz III, Dec. 6
1241 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-9000
Oct. 12-Dec. 30, 2007
Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker
To a boy-band concert add satire on Christian pop music along with a slim underlying theatrical plot. The sum equals "Boyz in the Hoodwinking"...of an audience expecting an evangelical experience. Oh, there's a revival of sorts. The five guys, named after writers of the Gospels as well as every monotheistic religion's patriarch, Abraham, aided by a Sony Soul Sensor, are counting on relieving audience members of the weight of sins. No really heavy mettle needed, just a review of the group's Genesis followed by solo and group (non-metal) rock,soul, rap, even balladic numbers. Bits of chatter, jokes, reading from an audience Confession (instead of Suggestion) Box lead into an exorcism. All are backed up by four terrific, if personality-less musicians, lined up before vivid-color-changing curtain with shiny inset panels, lit by Micheal Foster.
Personality is supplied by the performer-types. Blond-bland leader Casey Gensler typifies the All American (that is, WASP) Boy, Matthew. That he's chosen to bring audience participation onstage is no accident. Always animated Andrew Grosshandler admits gay-ly to his secret: being Catholic. Recovering from addictions, John Ashley Brown's Luke epitomizes strong but dumb radical-gone-right. Gymnastics do so fit his admission "I Gotta Work on My Soul." Suave JP Moraga is birthday boy Juan, the necessary ethnic romantic singer and fine dancer of "La Vida Eternal." As the group's Jewish lyricist Abraham, James LaRosa gives the group its few smarts in dialogue. Into a routine using sheepish puppets, he thrusts a Hassidic lamb. This casting is unquestionably audience pleasing.
Director Richard Hopkins keeps the proceedings going so seamlessly that they seem more intense than they are. There's much greater--and better—fervor in the dancing (choreographed by Christopher Gattelli and adapted by Stephen Hope) than in religious sensibility. Under Musical Director and keyboarder Michael Hicks, Phyllis Gessler, Rocky Bentley , and Nicholas Rodriguez make the score intergenerationally palatable. Eric Stahlhammer is responsible for the voice of God, among other sounds. Scenic design and costumes, including grungy jeans, glitzy tees, crucifixes and one Star of David, are the work of Marcella Beckwith.
Production Stage Manager: Stacy A. Blackburn. One Act: 80 mins.

Return to Home Page