BWW Reviews: PMT Productions Presents MIDTOWN LIVE: A Concert Experience That Breaks The Mold

It's a hot, Houston evening with the humidity so high I feel my hair curling up at the nape of my neck. I duck into The Alley Kat Bar and Lounge to catch a peek at the final rehearsal for PMT Productions' MIDTOWN LIVE. The performance venue is cool and cozy and is a much needed respite from the heat. Maryann Williams is singing "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" from the musical Next To Normal. I could listen to her voice all day.

MIDTOWN LIVE feels more like a neighborhood cabaret than a theatre production. Their song roster runs the gamut between contemporary rock musicals and popular songs that dominate the radio airwaves. This feels like an easy marriage; both genres are energy-infused and a little edgy. To my ear, if you like the songs from such musicals as Rent, Next To Normal, and Spring Awakening, you will probably like Anna Kendrick's "When I'm Gone" and Sara Bareilles' "Gravity". PMT's arrangement of "When I'm Gone" is arguably the highlight of the show, with it's tight harmonies and a cappella stylings. The women of Midtown Live sound very good together and the strength of the show lies in the female voices and the catchy arrangements. Other highlights include Brittany Soriano singing a decidedly R&B version of Katy Perry's "Roar" and Kasi Hollowell's gorgeous vocals on "Come To Your Senses", from the musical "Tick...Tick...Boom."

All of the singers have strong voices and so there were times when microphones were over-worked. A good rule of thumb: the higher the note, the further the distance between the singer's mouth and the mike. This applies to belting, as well. There were also times when the band was too loud. It must be noted that I attended a dress rehearsal, and it's entirely possible that the sound issues have been worked out since.

PMT founder and music director Eduardo Guzman thought it would interesting to create a performance experience that built a bridge between rock musicals and popular contemporary music. The effect is cool and fun, and will appeal to anyone who loves contemporary rock music. "MIDTOWN LIVE is an opportunity for the fringe community to come out and see a new kind of production, a kind of production that is becoming a significant part of the performing arts scene here in Houston, and an opportunity for the uninitiated to introduce themselves to musical theater in a comfortable environment, through a familiar format." Guzman is a talented musician and seemed to manage the performers with a calm, professional demeanor. He is definitely one to watch, with exciting ideas and a passion for music.

I, for one, am happy to see playwrights and directors nabbing non-traditional performance spaces. Where there's a will, there's a way, and it's good to see gifted, creative work being done, whether it's in a premiere theatre or in a popular neighborhood bar.

MIDTOWN LIVE runs August 21-23 at 9 p.m. For tickets go to:

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From This Author Jenny Taylor Moodie


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