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BWW Reviews: VOCA PEOPLE - White Noise

They look a little like Blue Man Group, they sound a little like Toxic Audio and they talk a lot like Andy Kaufman and Carol Kane playing Latka and Simka onTaxi, but while Voca People might give the appearance of being a bit too tourist trappy for we jaded New York theatre types, it's the kind of family friendly, good clean fun that's legitimately clever, catchy and often downright adorable.

I'll admit I didn't think it was going to be my kind of thing when I first read creator/director Lior Kalfo's  premise concerning a white-clad octet of a cappella singing aliens from the planet Voca (Soprana, Mezzo, Alta, Tenoro, Bari-Tone and Tubas, along with Commander Beat On, who mimics boom-box beats, and Deputy Scratcher, who vocalizes vinyl scratches) who land on Earth needing to musically refuel their spaceship by absorbing the musical knowledge of humans, but the briskly played ninety minutes features lively, sometimes unexpectedly complex arrangements by Shai Fishman, funny staging by Kalfo and a highly charismatic group of comedian singers who not only sizzle in harmony, but who each create distinctly humorous personalities using broken English and Voca gibberish.

The higher-ups seem determined not to let us know who exactly plays what part but the names of the ten performers billed (I'm guessing two are alternates) are Ryan Alexander, Mercer Boffey, Laura Dadap, Emily Drennan, Tiago Grade, Chelsey Keding, Jermaine Miles, Christine Paterson, Gavriel Savit and Jonathan Shew.

There is a ton of audience participation that singles out certain spectators, so avoid the aisles and especially the front row if you're not into it.  Mostly it involves performers placing their hands on the sculls of visitors to intake the music within them.  Once they've powered up their first supply they offer a quick history of Earth music, which includes snippets of Handel, Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, The Beatles, Little Richard, Michael Jackson, Madonna and many more.  A movie music medley has them miming moments from the Pink Panther series,The Godfather,Mission Impossible,Titanicand the James Bond collection.

For classical music fans there are selections fromCarmen,The Marriage of Figaroand a wild rendering ofFlight of The Bumblebee.

One lucky gal gets brought up on stage to be serenaded in a romantic pop medley by the guys.  The jealous Voca women then bring three men up to seduce.  This segment has a couple of slightly naughty moments but nothing that will emotionally scar the kiddies for life.  In fact, the kids will have a blast at this one, as well as the adults.

Just two little quibbles:  A) No matter how charming you are I will not clap along to anyone's chorus of "We Are The World."  B)  When you're in the theatre district and you want to sing a song about New York, it's best to stick to the one by Kander & Ebb.  With the lyrics Liza sings, thank you very much.

Photos by Leon Sokoletski.

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