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Review: Oso Is SoSo & NotSo Fabuloso At JoeJoe's In OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS At Joe's Pub

Rock Concert Masquerades As A Musical & Vice Versa?

Review: Oso Is SoSo & NotSo Fabuloso At JoeJoe's In OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS At Joe's Pub Wednesday night's excursion downtown to Joe's Pub introduced us to a popular INTAR production that was wrapping up a run of shows at The Public Theater space. OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS is a hybrid rock concert/musical theater offering with book and lyrics by the show's star, C. Julian Jiménez, and music by P.K. Variance. The premise of the show follows big, cute, cuddly bear Oso Fabuloso (Jiménez) as he regales the crowd with the tale of his latest dumpage by his latest daddy bear - that's it, really. Telling the story from their CRAIG's LIST meet-cute, through falling for each other and moving in, followed by gay bed-death and the inevitable opening up of their relationship, to multiple partners, to finally calling it quits, Oso prances about with outre affectations that place him in the Norma Desmond club - eyes rolling back, hands akimbo, feeling all the drama, all the time. While there were moments when Oso broke down and offered up real feelings, here and there, the performance left this rainbow writer a touch exhausted, just watching. Speaking English in a native Puerto Rican accent, Oso does not hold back the emotions or the out-and-proud queerness of his life. Whether it's wearing a leather harness atop his girth under a sheer top, or furiously fanning himself with a huge fan that read MARICON, Oso flounced and bounced around the stage, speaking his pain, and then singing that pain, when spoken word was no longer good enough.

Review: Oso Is SoSo & NotSo Fabuloso At JoeJoe's In OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS At Joe's Pub Surrounded by a very tight rock band led by composer/Musical Director Variance on guitar, with Robert Cowie on keyboards, Ray Rizzo on drums, and Jesse Sklar on bass, the score, while at times prompting chair dancing in the house (and from our young theater buddy companion), eventually began to sound a lot of the same, song to song. Along with this lack of variety, and despite Jiménez's huge vocals, the band at times dominated and obscured clarity in the lyrics. This could also have been the fault of Bobby's unfortunate seat in the farthest house right corner, sort of stuffed back on a banquette. From that vantage point, getting the full force of the show and of Jiménez's considerable talents as a singing actor was, most likely, experiencing some visual and acoustical obstacles (see Bobby's pictures to get the idea). That aside, one cannot deny that Jiménez was putting it all out there as Oso, fully committed and with all the talent one needs to put over the kind of show that rests squarely on the shoulders of a single performer. Oh yes - there were GoGo Bears in the house and backup bears (Joseph Distl as Grizz, Vasileos Leon as Gummy) on the stage, providing solid vocals and the odd setup lines here and there, with Variance playing beleaguered Oso's long-suffering therapist, Dr. Calvo, but all the heavy acting and singing lifting belonged to Jiménez. Possessed of a big voice with an impressive range, Oso's creator left it all out there on the stage, for sure, pumping out the energy and the notes, all while strutting like a drag diva, back and forth and around the stage. The trouble was, in the long run, this outpouring of power was more than the slim story and strident music could sustain. Is Jiménez a very talented singer? Sure... Does he have the chops to be a "musical theater star"? You bet. But in the context of the slight story being told, too much, however amusing, can get to be too much. There were laughs and there were cheers throughout, but it's hard not to get swept up by a truly charismatic player giving his all, regardless of the paper house he is shouting from. Plaudits must be given to the show's creators for this celebration of the Gay Bear Necessities. Oso & his Bear Backs are all big, beautiful boys leading with their portliness, right out there for all to see, some in skirts and fish nets, and that makes this show important in the pantheon of gay theater, and for this year's pride. We could only wish that the material itself had either come across funnier or with more pathos, in a story that evoked greater meaning overall.

Review: Oso Is SoSo & NotSo Fabuloso At JoeJoe's In OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS At Joe's Pub

The one reason to have seen OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS was and will remain C. Julian Jiménez, and while that might be a very good reason, given his talent, we hope our next experience of this Beary gifted performer will have more heft. And so we are left with giving this one...

2 Out Of 5 Rainbows

INTAR Is One Of The Most Notable And Worthy Latin Theatres In The U.S. And Deserves Support And Audiences. Check Out Their Website: HERE

All Phots By Little Bobby Patrick

Review: Oso Is SoSo & NotSo Fabuloso At JoeJoe's In OSO FABULOSO AND THE BEAR BACKS At Joe's Pub

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From This Author - Bobby Patrick

Heigh Ho Friends & “Family”! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T. I am a queer reviewer, specializing in the seedy underbelly... (read more about this author)

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