BWW Reviews: SRO's Perfectly Played [TITLE OF SHOW] is Exuberant, Hilarious and Heart-Warming
One would never guess that [title of show] is only Standing Room Only Productions' 6th production. The show is perfectly polished, and every aspect of the production is simply magnificent.
[title of show] is a hilarious and inspiring musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical. Throughout the production, Hunter Bell's book wittily references everything Broadway from well-known performers to legendary flops. It throws jabs at BROOKLYN (“BROOKLYN is totally derivative, but we’re singing the shit out of it!”) and the references to CARRIE in “Monkeys and Playbills” had me rolling in the aisles. The show is also chock-full of delightful self-referential, self-deprecating humor and charming quips about the reactions from the assembled audience. With all the laughs, the cast really gets the chance to show off their emotional versatility in numbers like “Awkward Photo Shoot” and “A Way Back to Then.” There is no denying that the show has a large heart and reminds the audience that dreaming and chasing seemingly impossible dreams is worth the effort you put in. After all, the cast asks, “Can you imagine making money doing what we love?”
Michael Allen Taylor has pristinely directed the show, ensuring that no joke falls flat and that the shows touches the heart as much as it tickles the ribs. His cast expertly personifies the people they portray, and by the end of the night the audience leaves feeling like they have made four new best friends.
William Michael Luyties musical direction is crisp and clean as well. The four cast members have surprising power behind their voices and can delivering impressive belts. Yet, it's their ability to seamlessly blend and harmonize on intricate and complicated music that truly takes the audiences’ breath away. It is abundantly clear how much work William Michael Luyties put into rehearsing this cast, and it pays off in their extraordinary performances.
Hunter Frederick's Hunter is the consummate dreamer and instantly relatable to the audience. Throughout the show, he constantly dreams of taking his show all the way to Broadway. As [TITE OF SHOW] bounces towards its climax, Hunter's longing to see the show on Broadway no matter the cost threatens to unravel his friendships, ensuring that what the audience gets to enjoy and witness is not merely "donuts for dinner." Hunter Frederick breathes youthful eagerness and a sustaining believable life into his characterization. His vocals are golden and his upper range is rich and striking. Additionally, his stint as blank paper is priceless.
As Jeff, Tyler Galindo is perfectly cast. His deadpan grammar jokes easily induce laughter. His character is also fantastically consumed by the dream, although Jeff has stronger reins on his ambition and tames its ability to run wild. Tyler Galindo’s Jeff has his head in the clouds and both feet firmly planted on the ground, which makes him a great foil to Hunter. When it comes to singing, Tyler Galindo is superb. His vocals are bright, warm, and engaging.
Heidi, portrayed by Erin Wasmund, is wonderfully sentimental and fully realized. Her rendition of “A Way Back to Then” truly exemplifies the emotional depth of the production and mesmerizes the audience. As the character traverses her arc, getting cast as an ensemble member understudy or some equally thankless position in THE LITTLE MERMAID on Broadway, the cast roots for her to find success. Like the rest of the cast though, we want that success to come from Hunter and Jeff’s show. Erin Wasmund’s Heidi is making a living as an actress and living the dream; however, to fully satiate her dream, she must find fulfillment in living her dream while performing in a role she loves. This exemplifies the multifaceted layers of dreams, bringing a much-appreciated cerebral element into the comedy.
Playing Susan, Heather Hall is fantastically wacky, vulgar, and needy. “Give me attention,” she says to Hunter in an early scene, setting the stage for her dynamic characterization. Quite possibly, the evenings best moments come from her performance of “Die, Vampire, Die!” Everyone has had a dream crushed or redirected by someone else, which ensures that every member of the audience can truly relate to this number. Heather Hall’s comedic timing is simply divine and a talent that will ensure longevity in the theatre. Likewise, she delivers Susan’s flip vulgarity with such a natural ease, that it is hard to believe that the show is actually rehearsed and not completely improvised.
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