BWW Reviews: Forget The Weather and Get Together at Shadowbox Live's FOREPLAY
Shadowbox Live regulars know that while saucy, sensual, and sassy are year-round commodities for the troupe, when the season of love rolls around, Shadowbox tends to shed its few inhibitions left. Titling its Lion's Den sponsored show, "Foreplay", and the sold out crowds packing the venue are neither shocking nor surprising, but what is an incredibly ironic twist- this is one of the most tamed down shows to grace the 'Box yet.
Shadowbox does its classic sketch-comedy and rock'n'roll format often and well, and "Foreplay" is true to that form. The sketches, written by resident funny man, Jimmy Mak, with assistance from David Whitehouse, Nickey Winkelman, and JT Walker III, should be a guaranteed formula for hilarity. Their aptitude is clear in witty scenes like "Cold Feet", in which Stacie Boord and Tom Cardinal play a soon-to-be-wed couple experiencing second thoughts....at their vow renewal after 20 years together, and Boord and Cardinal are again laughter rousing in their power-point laden seminar presentation, "How To Arouse Me". However, other sketches such as the silly "Alone Time" (in which Jimmy Mak plays a teenager trying to get some 1:1 time in his room with a Victoria's Secret magazine) and "Picking Up Is Hard To Do" (in which Brandon Anderson attempts to teach David Whitehouse how to pick up girls in a bar) are well-acted enough to be amusing, but rely on more juvenile humor than the snarky, intelligent dialogue typical of the Shadowbox comedic geniuses.
While the sketch comedies by and large are nice appetizers, the real deliciousness in this show is in its musical numbers. Also a surprising diversion from the usual loud and edgy rock'n'roll line-up, "Foreplay" goes for smooth, sexy, and sultry this time around, with a demure and bluesy version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" (sung by Stacie Boord and JT Walker III) opening the show , to an ultra-cool Tom Cardinal on Sting's "We'll Be Together", or JT Walker III's rendition of "Father Figure" that was so stellar that after which, my tablemate remarked, "George Michael's version is only an impersonation now...."- Shadowbox never ceases to exercise its vocal prowess with all the right moves. Brandon Anderson opens Act II with an incredibly tight "Gett Off" by Prince, while Nikki Fagin delivers a silky Sade-esque "Sweetest Taboo", and Stev Guyer closes with an old-school, "You Can Leave Your Hat On", complimented by visually gorgeous company choreography (by Katy Psenicka) depicting love and lust in all walks of life.
"Foreplay", musically, is a very "grown-up", vampy, and mature production, much like a fine wine, and while the sketches are entertaining, they more aptly resemble a big label beer- reliably good, but ordinary. In the season of love where opposites attract, the two play well enough together to create a pleasurable winter warm up. With an ensemble that exudes artistic passion and ridiculously good talent year-round, Shadowbox's "Foreplay" remains a no-fail way to score a great night's entertainment and brings just enough steaminess to melt the Central Ohio deep freeze.
Shadowbox Live's "Foreplay" runs now through March 22nd at 503 S. Front Street, Columbus 43215 with shows on Thurs/Fri/Sat at 7:30pm and Fri/Sat at 10:30pm. For tickets and additional information, go to: http://www.shadowboxlive.org/shows/foreplay
PHOTO CREDIT: Shadowbox Live