Review: TAKING NOTES Takes a Look at Learning at The Green Room 42

Andrew Bova is a student appreciating the "Lessons In and Out of Class"

By: Jun. 08, 2024
Review: TAKING NOTES Takes a Look at Learning at The Green Room 42
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How does a young guy with his sights set firmly on becoming a performer — focused on vocal technique, auditions, and hoping for acceptance in the college of his choice — do an autobiographical solo cabaret show without seeming self-absorbed and show-offy?  Well, if you are Andrew Bova, it helps that there’s some humble pie on the menu and, when talking about your weaknesses and missteps, you’re self-deprecating without being self-pitying.  Referring to his earlier “delusional confidence” and his realization that one can learn the most from failures, the bubbly Bova comes across as self-aware and self-assured while discussing his self doubts.  

Whatever dorkiness or frustrations he may have, he need not worry about his abilities as a singer.  He has an appealing timbre, and songs are often set in a high range that, along with his acting skills, makes him seem relatable – real, vulnerable, and in touch with the feelings and yearning in lyrics.  (And adding an extra extra-tender ballad that stays in calm mode all the way, eschewing a big build, would be with consideration.)  

Appropriate to his situation in life (he’s enrolled at Emerson College and has studied musical theatre and voice), his show is titled Taking Notes: Lessons In and Out of Class and he returned with appropriate frequency to the theme of what he’s learned from teachers and others, in classrooms and in the school of Life.  His show at The Green Room 42 on May 31 was a success.  Never giving short shrift to his shortcomings — as an admitted klutz in athletics or being in over his head at something he’s gamely trying, such as attempting to scat-sing to get into a jazz choir — he endears himself to the audience with this attitude Review: TAKING NOTES Takes a Look at Learning at The Green Room 42 mixed with gratitude.  (However, it was clear from some reactions and references in the patter that many of the attendees already knew him, which is not at all unusual in a debut show.)  

Andrew Bova talks with zeal about his experiences which include being in a revised production of the quirky musical Bat Boy with its songwriter, Laurence O’Keefe, involved.  Some material was presented as simply samples of songs he’d learned or liked, such the classic Duke Ellington/Bob Russell “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” for the jazz choir, while others were worked into the narrative to illustrate and recall something he went through (“I Think I Like Her” written for a teenaged boy character’s awareness of attraction to an alluring female, from the score of the musical Summer of ‘42).  

He amusingly described a tongue-in-cheek fantasy scenario about a girlfriend breaking up with him, who’d then plead for a reconciliation, letting him reject her, taunting her with the words of the Taylor Swift 2012 rant “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”  On a more serious note, he dug into the Alanis Morisette song about the pressure to be “Perfect” (“Don't forget to win first place/ Don't forget to keep that smile on your face/ Be a good boy/ Try a little harder/ You've got to measure up”).  Being comfortable with who he is, flaws and all, came into view with “Why Try to Change Me Now?”  His dedication to musical theatre performance skills was addressed in savvy renditions of “Dancing Through Life” from Wicked and revised words to a number from Wonderful Town originally written for a character whose one valued skill was being the athlete who could “Pass the Football” was revised so that the key line was “But I could hit those high notes!”  

The show, while entertaining, risks having an audience feeling like they’ve read one too many pages in his diary.  One might hope he’d step outside his personal perspective to veer to some kind of “Well, enough about me” moment to consider a broader view; maybe something illustrating or reflecting on a mentor’s experience or sharing a tale he was told without Andrew Bova as the protagonist.  In one particular story, I started to be bothered by his abundant use of the all-purpose word “LIKE” before adjectives as a placeholder so common in conversations among younger folks. But there’s charm in his chatty anecdotes about awkward teen moments, being clueless about appropriate choices for try-outs, frustrations related to romantic attractions, and being in a summer theatre program.

Musical accompaniment was effective, although it would add another color to the landscape to have the two musicians get chances to stretch out with an extended instrumental break or two.  Evan Rees, music director, was at the piano, solidly supporting the singer, with Joseph Thor doing good work on guitar for some numbers. The lighting, which sometimes at this venue seems to switch things up almost randomly, change for its own sake, was extremely well thought out and theatrical, creating different strikingly dramatic effects for individual moments and moods in the stories within the songs. 

Andrew Bova’s energy, his love of performing and desire to keep applying what he’s learned indicate the stamina and drive needed to grow and glow, show by show. Take note of the Taking Notes fellow: he’s quite castable and commendable.  

Visit the Green Room 42's website for more upcoming shows.

Follow Andrew Bova on Instagram.


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