BWW Reviews: BJ: A MUSICAL ROMP from Stageright
Settle Stageright, a brand new theater company to Seattle, is presenting their 2nd show, "BJ: A Musical Romp" (yes the show is exactly what you think it's about). And while the show is not the best written piece of theater, the cast are certainly having fun with it and selling it for all they're worth, which translates into tons of fun for the audience.
Written by Peter Dagger and Eric Jarboe, the show follows the exploits of BJ (Benyamin Jeremiah) as he embarks on his first day away from home and at college. Problem is home is all he knows as he has been home schooled for the past 18 years and so he knows very little of the big bad world and even less about sex. Never fear, his new roommate, Jack, is here with some sage advice and his Sex Thesaurus which contains all you'd ever need to know. And good thing because now BJ has to navigate through a very gay Resident Advisor, an overly aggressive bombshell and a sweet and nerdy math geek, all of whom seem to want BJ's, ... er ... "attention". And then there's Mom who keeps popping back in to warn BJ about those evil hussies.
The problem is that's the entire show. They start out with a sex joke, and then there's a sex joke, oh then to mix things up it's followed by a sex joke. It starts off coming off as clever but after a few different numbers are referencing BJs (and I don't mean the main character) and other sex acts, it gets a little wearing and tedious. It seems like the authors chose to forgo any kind of character development or storyline with a litany of double entendres (and sometimes single entendres). And just when you'd resigned yourself to that fact, then comes Act II and the show suddenly tries to get deep and serious, only to flip back to shallow and bawdy two songs later. The show itself seems to have difficulty deciding what it is. And there are a few scenes are just don't belong.
Luckily for us the cast is going all out to punch every joke and milk every line. And with some incredible voices and hilarious choreography, they actually manage to sell a lot of it. Kudos to director Brendan Mack and choreographer Sam Pettit for keeping the cast tight and together in an already tight space. Not to mention the clever use of constantly breaking the fourth wall to interject some look, or joke or in one hysterical moment an irritated stage manager rushing on to help a dim witted actor. But what really brings it home is the talented people they have involved. Jason Harber is lecherously sweet as the eponymous BJ who just wants to experience life at last. Michele Flowers is wonderful as the overprotective Mom. John E. Olson III steals each scene he's in as the roommate Jack especially when reading excerpts from his Sex Thesaurus. And the girls down the hall who are both after a little BJ, Christine Nelson as the bombshell Destiny and Sophia Federighi as the geeky Gabriel (yes, they know it's a boy's name) are stunning as two polar opposite roommates who find out they're not all that different. And Ryan McCabe blows everyone away with his belting voice and oh so gay RA, Mullins.
So all in all a somewhat weak show made good by a stellar cast. Is it worth seeing? Yes. But don't go in expecting some grand statement. Just a bunch of penis jokes and a really talented cast. Which is sometimes all you need.
"BJ: A Musical Romp" plays alternating evenings at the Jewelbox Theatre in Belltown and the Balagan Theatre on Capitol Hill through July 30th. For a complete schedule or tickets or information, visit them online at www.seattlestageright.org.