Review: STALKING JOHN BARROWMAN Plagued By Technical Problems

By: Sep. 28, 2015

John Barrowman is a Scottish-American actor, singer, dancer, TV show host and writer who has both British and American citizenship. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1975. His first big break was as Billy Crocker in Cole Porter's Anything Goes on London's West End. His most recent West End credit was in the 2009 production of La Cage aux Folles. To American audiences, he is primarily known for his TV work playing Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and Torchwood. He is also openly gay.

STALKING JOHN BARROWMAN is a musical written by Naomi Chiffi and Jude Garner and composer/lyricist Patrick Steed that is currently enjoying its American Première in a production by Last Act Theatre Company. A clever play on the musical chestnut of boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again; STALKING JOHN BARROWMAN is about a female fan who meets a gay male fan who are equally obsessed with Mr. Barrowman. They become unlikely friends and even end up opening a detective agency together so they can devote more time to their obsession. It is billed as a musical about friendship, love, and the consequences of extreme fandom over John Barrowman.

This musical is obviously high on concept, like most chamber musicals and even employs the convention of a girl group Greek chorus called the J-Belles (think Ronettes in Little Shop of Horrors). Besides them, we have the two leads, Jamie (Greg Driscoll) and Julie (Kristin Hall) and the Ensemble, who play a multitude of characters. And, for added measure, John Barrowman himself has recorded his voice and it is used in the show quite effectively. Think Will & Grace meets Little Shop of Horrors and you've got a fair idea of what this show is.

Being a big fan myself of Mr. Barrowman as well as Doctor Who and Torchwood, I was looking forward to seeing this show. This is definitely a fan-boy musical. The thing is, when you are producing a chamber musical, you have to realize that they are the theatrical equivalent of a soufflé. They have to be light, airy and fast paced as they are designed to be pure entertainment. Unfortunately, this production is plagued by technical issues that it never quite recovers from.

The biggest problem here is the sound system. The combo (keyboardist and musical director Cy Albertson and Drummer Elliot Trahan) are so loud they drown out the performers. It also appeared that the microphones on the cast were cutting in and out all night. The end result was that a good 75% of the show is completely unintelligible.

Another problem is the extremely long scene changes that grind the action of the show to a complete halt. While Christina Barboza's set is clever, it seemed too much for the cast to handle changing quickly, especially in the changes to Jamie and Julie's detective office. This, in turn, made the pacing seem extremely slow.

There are some good performances here. Kristin Hall is very good as Julie. She has a strong voice and was quite funny as the female part of the duo. Unfortunately, Greg Driscoll is miscast as Jamie. He seemed to struggle so much with the British accent that the wit and panache of this gay musical fan is lost. Many jokes, especially those of the double entendre kind (of which there are many in this show), just never land. This also keeps there from being any real chemistry (which is what should drive the show) between Jamie and Julie.

The J-Belles (a cross between a Greek musical chorus, narrators and muses) are also very good. Kate Clark, Chelsea Beth Hockaday and Becky Musser create this charming and snappy trio that keep the show moving along. Although these roles were written for a gospel trio, these actresses acquit themselves quite well.

Many members of the ensemble also deliver memorable moments, namely Devin Adams, who possesses a strong clear singing voice and infuses every scene he has with great likability; Andrew Brett and Hal Roberts are charming as the boyfriends who come along; Taylor Flanagan as a Starbucks employee and Mindy Rast-Keenan as the oversexed office worker every gay male fears.

Director Ben McLemore and Choreographer Kelly Sims didn't seem to offer the cast much in the way of inspiration. Where one expected funny, charming, clever, feel-good and a little raunchy we instead were given actors in darkness, playground choreography, unintelligible music, wrinkled costumes... it just seemed like this whole soufflé hadn't quite cooked enough.

STALKING JOHN BARROWMAN by Naomi Chiffi and Jude Garner, Music by Patrick Steed.

Running time: 2 hours including one intermission.

STALKING JOHN BARROWMAN, produced by Heather Leonard for Last Act Theatre Company at the Daugherty Art Center (110 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704). Performances Sept. 24, 25 & 26, Oct. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 & 10 at 8:00 PM. Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 10 & 11 at 1:00 PM. Tickets: $20.



Salvage Vanguard Theater Presents The World Premiere Of DECAPITATIONS By Megan Tabaque Photo
Salvage Vanguard Theater Presents The World Premiere Of DECAPITATIONS By Megan Tabaque

Salvage Vanguard Theater has announced the world premiere of Decapitations, by Megan Tabaque.


What did our critic think of THE GIRL WHO BECAME LEGEND at ZACH? In the heart of Dustbin, where rules and dust reign supreme, I had the opportunity to experience Sarah Saltwick’s charming THE GIRL WHO BECAME LEGEND. This darling production, a commissioned work by The Kennedy Center, now playing at ZACH, is brought to life and staged by the ensemble work of a creative and sturdy cast and their director Liz Fisher.

Filigree Theatre Unveils Fifth Anniversary Season at Factory on 5th, Starting with ANTIGON Photo
Filigree Theatre Unveils Fifth Anniversary Season at Factory on 5th, Starting with ANTIGONE in October

Austin-based independent theatre company, The Filigree Theatre, are back with their Fifth Anniversary Season entitled 'The Woman in the Story,' beginning with their Fall production of 'Antigone,' written by Sophocles and adapted by David Rush.

FronteraFest 2024 Opens Call for Entries Photo
FronteraFest 2024 Opens Call for Entries

FronteraFest, Austin’s longest-running, and well-known performance festival is currently accepting applications for performers of all styles and genres through November 1, 2023.  Find out how to enter here!

From This Author - Frank Benge

A Kansas native, Frank Benge has been involved in the Austin area theatre scene as a Director, Designer, Writer and Performer for the past 20 years. He holds a double BA in Theatre and English from Wa... Frank Benge">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
TexARTS (9/29-10/15)Tracker
#repshow# in[i]# Hershey Felder as George Gershwin Alone
ZACH Theatre (9/14-10/01)
#repshow# in[i]# 13th annual Swan Songs Serenade benefit and gala feat. Jackie Venson on Oct. 29 at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Four Seasons Hotel Austin (10/29-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Flood of Spirits
Cheerful Secrets at THE DRISKILL (10/17-10/24)PHOTOS
#repshow# in[i]# Bat Boy The Musical
Austin Community College Drama Department (10/13-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
TexARTS (9/29-10/15)
#repshow# in[i]# The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body
The VORTEX (4/11-5/04)
#repshow# in[i]# The Filigree Theatre presents “Antigone”
The Filigree Theatre (10/12-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# Born With Teeth
Austin Playhouse (4/05-4/28)
#repshow# in[i]# The Spitfire Grill
Austin Playhouse (1/26-2/18)

Recommended For You