BWW Reviews: Shadowbox Live's NIGHTMARE ON FRONT STREET Delightfully Freaky Fun
Shadowbox Live's sketch comedy and rock-n-roll format is back with a fall run of "Nightmare on Front Street", which runs now through November 16th on Friday and Saturday evenings. Much less scary than the name implies, this is actually a more "light" show than most of Shadowbox's productions, while maintaining the edgy fun that makes Shadowbox one of the most unique entertainment experiences in Columbus. It was delightful to hear Stacie Boord open with the Shadowbox theme song- a total throwback to the company's earlier days, and a prelude to a cast of mostly veteran performers this time around. Song numbers were the expected eclectic mix of rock, performed by the house band "Bill Who?" who consistently rock the netherworld out of everything they play- particularly Matthew Hahn, Harley Wolfe, and Jeff Simpson on Guitars and Bass. Ranging from Tom Cardinal's psychedelic "White Room" by Cream, to a haunting, jealousy-filled "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers (sung by Leah Haviland), to a creepy broken-doll clad version of Alice in Chains' "Man in the Box" (sung chillingly well by Nikki Fagin), to a sultry Stacie Boord rendition of "Red Like the Devil" by The Floorwalkers, the musical choices were all nicely performed, but relatively solemn by Shadowbox standards, with the stand-out performance going to the unfortunately last number of the evening- a completely rocking version of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" sung by the stellar Noelle Grandison.
Sketch comedies got off to a slow start with " Wonder Mom", a sketch that had potential when examining the "real " problems of superheroes, but never really took off. Tried-and-true characters from previous Shadowbox shows appeared in droves for "Nightmare on Front Street" though, much to the delight of familiar audiences. The reprise of the perennially funny "Campfire Boys" had Jimmy Mak and David Whitehouse's Boy Scout-ish characters discussing their post-horror movie fest faves with quite funny results. A thoroughly frightening thought, "Night of the Liberal Apocalypse" finds hillBilly Buddies, Tito (David Whitehouse) and Clarence (Jimmy Mak) pondering life via FOX news. A reprise of the "Sneak a Peek" movie review sketch finds reviewers Shelly (a wry Julie Klein) and John (a sugar-obsessed David Whitehouse) looking at horror flicks for kids, with Stacie Boord as a hilariously funny axe-murdering spoof of Dora the Explorer, and a cheesy-but-funny Scooby Doo spoof with Matthew Hain as a way too spot-on version of Shaggy. Though these bits are frequently recycled in Shadowbox shows, they worked well repeated here. However, a replay of "Dr. Mystery", this time as a Horror Movie Villian came off as overcooked. The insertion of brief video clips of "behind the scenes" of Shadowbox found Jimmy Mak attempting to video document the ghost of Front Street Ghost-Hunters' style, was a novel enough adaptation to be amusing.
Costumes (by Linda Mullins and Nick Wilson) for this show were somewhat excessive, though the eccentricity created depth and mystery to several numbers, most notably, the pedestrians dressed in period costuming in "White Room" and the creepy broken dolls in "Man In the Box". With the visual effect upped dramatically, the show could have benefitted from a more energetic mix of song selections, as with this cast being some of the most proven powerhouse singers in the troupe, there was certainly talent to deliver the kind of vocal performance "shock and awe" to match the eye candy.
Even after a couple glasses of Freak, "Nightmare on Front Street" is more "pleasant hallucination" than that its name implies, and frequent Shadowboxers will revel in its familiarity, while also making it the perfect introduction for newbies looking for a casual, fun, fall night at the Box.
Shadowbox Live presents "Nightmare on Front Street" at 503 S. Front Street, Columbus 43215 on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm and 10:30pm now through November 16th. Go to: www.shadowboxlive.org for tickets and additional info.