Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

After Ben Bogen's nightclub solo show debut, other acts are going to have to up their ante.

By: Dec. 10, 2021
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Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Something shocking happened last night at The Green Room 42. It wasn't necessarily a surprise to anyone on hand that Ben Bogen would present an enjoyable evening of entertainment with his club act TEENAGE DREAM but no nightclub novice making their solo show debut should ever come out of the gate with an absolutely perfect show from start to finish. It happens. Ardent admirers of the club and concert industry who see a lot have, certainly, witnessed memorable club acts to which they could point and say, "THAT was a perfect solo show debut" but last night Ben Bogen went above and beyond, right out of the gate, with a debut resembling a rock and roll show with a full band and backup dancers. Oh, wait. This was a rock and roll show with a full band and backup dancers. And MTV-worthy choreography. And a storyline. And a message. Teenage Dream also had humor, pathos, honesty, humanity, sexiness, playfulness, and all of it wrapped around an extraordinary talent. Solo show debut.

Shocking.

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Teenage Dream, Mr. Bogen explained to his Standing Room Only audience (and live streamers) is his celebration of ten years of living as an out-and-proud gay male. From the day of his coming out to last night, Bogen has been on a voyage of self-discovery as a man and as an artist, and both the man and the artist shared their stories in a seamlessly crafted script that may tell one man's story, but it's a story to which all can relate. Herein lies the jumping-off place for Ben Bogen: he has everyone because he is everyone. Not one person seated in The Green Room 42 (or standing) could reasonably claim that they didn't experience some version of some part of the life journey outlined by Mr. Bogen last night. Yes, many of the audience were gay men who understand the youthful society-informed need to stay in the closet, to hide who you are, to begin to emerge, to step into the light, but there were also members of the crowd last night who are female, gender non-binary, sexually fluid, or even cis-gender heterosexuals who might have grown up shy, nerdy, bookish, or anything else that requires rites of passage as one claims their place on this planet. By sharing his own story with candor and humor and a total absence of pretense, Ben Bogen didn't just entertain, he illuminated. That's what theater is meant to do - entertain and illuminate.

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 In his quest to live in the light (and last night Sheridan Glover's lights were the living end), Bogen has curated a lot of stories, both personal and musical, so he could easily have constructed his rock-and-pop concert with no more than a set of songs that sit in his eye-popping voice and jaw-dropping range in a manner that would satisfy the audience's basic need for ear candy. That, though, would not have satisfied Bogen, clearly a man with a deep artistic mission statement, one that matches his mission statement as a man: to assist and inspire others in their own life journeys. Obvious hours and hours went into the creation of Teenage Dream, from concept to creation: not one word of his script is superfluous, not one phrase excessive, and Bogen delivers his dialogue directly to an audience enraptured by the balance of comedy and comfort - and Ben is comfortable. He's honest about himself, his flaws, the mistakes he's made, the lessons he's learned, the embarrassing but chuckle-worthy moments and memories that have made up the Ben Bogen mosaic, and his willingness to share all the parts of himself so unabashedly keeps the audience in his corner the entire duration of his play.

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 It's only a short seventy minutes, Ben Bogen's play, and it plays like some fabulous television event, like a concert by Cher or Madonna, or a special by Misses MacLaine or Minnelli. With Musical Director Drew Wutke chiming in from time to time as a character in the play, and super-sexy and uber-gifted backup performers Morgan Harrison and Ross Thompson playing all the other parts (including prop master, stage manager, dresser, and visible support from the Peanut Gallery), Teenage Dream is like a musical PSA about living in the light and living your best life, which is exactly what Ben was doing last night. Working tirelessly to perfect every movement from a shoulder shrug to an eyebrow raise to spectacular lightning-quick choreography that should be too big for the stage of The Green Room 42 but that fits like a sequined glove, Bogen and co. managed to present the slickest, most professional, nearly unbelievable debut show this writer has ever seen. Shocking.

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 And on the subject of shocking... Ben Bogen's ability as a singer is not to be fathomed. No mere voice of a working actor is this because, for all his star quality and charisma, Mr. Bogen has the goods to validate his presence on the stage. The history of show business is rich with stories of people whose looks and personality outweigh their talent but this is not that story. Ben Bogen has it all - the moves, the character, the fashion, the confidence... but to sing like this takes more than talent, it takes training. Almost completely eschewing the singing of Broadway music, Mr. Bogen took on the music of pop divas like Sarah Bareilles, Taylor Swift, title track creator Katy Perry and, yes, even Cher and Madonna, and those are some substantial heels in which to walk (and dance) but at no time did Ben trip up. Every single musical offering wasn't only informed by passionate and truthful storytelling, they were all vocal triumphs that left audience members either cheering, sighing, swooning, or leaning into a loved one to share that moving moment when you hear a human voice ring out in the air, as an echo in a cathedral. Miraculous, that's what the Bogen sound is: miraculous.

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 In biblical days miracles just happened naturally, but in nightclubs, it takes some effort, and Mr. Bogen was assisted mightily by a top-drawer band, his director and choreographer, Ben Bogen himself (#moderndaygenekelly), but particularly significant contribution to the show was made by Musical Director Drew Wutke, whose arrangements provide Bogen with the best platform for his storytelling, notably on an inventive mashup of "Hillside Boys" and "Call Me Maybe" that didn't just create great harmonic possibilities for Ben and T.J. Newton, it gave the two besties some fun acting moments. There must have been a favored nations clause somewhere because fellow guest artists Michelle Beth Herman and Taylor Iman Jones were given similar moments to shine with a breathtaking "Daddy Issues" duet (Michelle) and a shattering Beyonce/Taylor Swift mashup (Taylor). Each and every artist to set foot onto the stage last night rose to the level that was Mr. Bogen's obvious intent, bringing fully realized and invested storytelling to a captivated audience, grateful for their combined and individual efforts. For Teenage Dream is that which audiences hope for when they invest time and a few dollars in an evening out. It's doggone great entertainment that moves the soul and the soles, cunningly crafted and performed by a man who will be interesting to watch. Exciting and interesting.

And shocking.

The TEENAGE DREAM band was: Guitar - Hajime Yoshida, Bass - Jonathan Michel, drums - Nicole Patrick, Piano/MD/Arranger Drew Wutke

Ben Bogen TEENAGE DREAM was a one-off that will hopefully receive future productions. Find other great shows on the Green Room 42 website HERE.

Ben Bogen has a website HERE.

Ben Bogen gets a five out of five microphones rating for performing his entire show without the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand.

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42
Morgan Harrison (R) and Ross Thompson (L)

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42
T.J. Newton

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42
Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42
Michelle Beth Herman

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42
Taylor Iman Jones
Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42
Drew Wutke

Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Review: Ben Bogen Shocks With TEENAGE DREAM at The Green Room 42 Photos by Stephen Mosher



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