BWW Reviews: MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL is Glittery, Glamorous Brillance
"The Queen of Disco" is back, honey! And, he is serving up something fierce and mighty real at the Theatre At St. Clement's. That's right. Right now, in New York City, you can go see Sylvester live and in person. Anthony Wayne, who you'll recognize from PIPPIN, is channeling the disco legend and fabulously entertaining a wide range of audiences in MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL. Part cabaret style concert, part musical spectacle, and full of sass and talent, MIGHTY REAL is what the biographical jukebox musical should be.
To be completely candid, disco music is not something I seek out. Before being invited to attend and review MIGHTY REAL, I had no idea who Sylvester was. I did my research before visiting Theatre At St. Clement's. Settling in for the production, the wide reach of audience the show drew impressed me. It seemed that just about every demographic was present in the intimate venue. Most spectacularly, by the end of the production, we were all on our feet, dancing, clapping, and having a truly marvelous time.
First and foremost, Anthony Wayne's book for MIGHTY REAL is anything but sugarcoated. He takes us on a journey through the glittery highs of Sylvester's career and exposes us to the gut wrenching lows too. Before our eyes, the disco icon is humanized, laid bare, and made wholly relatable even if his experiences do not parallel our own. Anthony Wayne has written and portrays Sylvester's rags to riches story that is only further complicated by love and loss with such honesty and charm that we cannot help but know that he has been touched by the fire of greatness in creating and delivering MIGHTY REAL for our consumption.
When Anthony Wayne's Sylvester isn't sharing his life story with us, he is blowing us away with his incredible vocal skills. With shimmering high notes, Anthony Wayne belts with a tangible vigor and resplendent passion for a majority of the show. He takes us on a journey through Sylvester's greatest hits. Tackling songs like "Ooh Baby Baby," "Do You Wanna Funk," "Cry Me a River," "Dance," and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," it is hard to pick any favorites because Anthony Wayne perfectly sells each exhilarating number. He deftly thrills and delights the audience with his radiance, charisma, and stage presence. And as the lights fade to black, he is still glowing and appears to have the energy to give a command repeat performance.
Providing back up as the women who would later be known as The Weather Girls, Anastacia McCleskey's Izora and Jacqueline B. Arnold's Martha entertain with ease. Both women get the opportunity to show off their incredible pipes throughout the show, slinging gorgeous notes into the stratosphere while showcasing their gospel, funk, and pop abilities. Additionally, their version of "It's Raining Men" is a true crowd pleaser.
Deanne Stewart and Rahmel McDade as Sylvester Singers add texture to the performance by lending their voices as back up support as well. Furthermore, Deanne Stewart's rendition of "Proud Mary" is astounding.
Music Director Alonzo Harris, leading the band on keyboards, expertly guides the vocalists and musicians through the music. He ensures that every note sung and played sounds effortless and clean. James Cage on Trumpet gives the score the bright tonalities associated with funk and disco all by himself. Alex "Busby" Smith's Bass is full of rhythm and funk, ensuring that we can't help but dance in our seats. Ben Natti on Guitar and Jason Patterson on Drums drive the show along with their vibrant musicianship.
Costume Design by Kendrell Bowman brings the show to stunning visual life. The colors and designs pop, coating the performances with a dazzling layer of glitter and glamour.
I didn't enter the Theatre At St. Clement's a fan of Sylvester, but I left feeling like I had seen the legend perform live, wanting to purchase Sylvester music, and hoping that an Off-Broadway cast recording is in the works. Whether you like disco or not, whether you are a fan of Sylvester or not, or whether you're a member of the LGBTQ community or not, MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL can and will reach your heart and soul. It's pulsating score, filled with infectious hooks, is sure to make you smile. Sylvester's poignant story is that of the American dreamer who found success. No matter who you are, this is the kind of show that will leave you uplifted, full of hope, ready to chase your own dreams, and feeling as if you have been touched by brilliance.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL runs at the Theatre At St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street, New York City, 10036 now through October 5, 2014. Performances are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 7:00 p.m. For tickets and more information, please visit http://fabuloussylvester.com or call OvationTix customer service at (866) 811-4111.