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BWW Review: BUBBLE BOY – A BUBBLE WHAMMY at Cast Aside Productions

BWW Review: BUBBLE BOY – A BUBBLE WHAMMY at Cast Aside Productions

Take the creators of Despicable Me and the 2001 Bubble Boy movie, add a dash of energy, originality and a lot of side splitting humour, and you end up with the toe-tapping, fast paced, crazy hilarious Bubble Boy the Musical.

Cast Aside Productions latest offering does not disappoint. While Cinco Paul (book, music and lyrics) and Ken Daurio (book) have crafted an energetic, fun filled piece of theatre, Cast Aside Productions added ingenuity, and created a well-rounded show that truly was an ensemble piece from start to finish.

Jimmy Livingston (Jacob Sutherland) has been born without an immune system and resides in a bubble that's located inside his bedroom. Isolated from the outside world, Jimmy's only source of contact is his uber Christian Mother (Amy Torrey) who spends her days reading him books - with questionable endings - until a girl named Chloe (Holly Hinchliffe) moves in next door. Glimpsing her briefly through his bedroom window young Jimmy is instantly enamored, and over the course of a year the two not only develop a friendship, but a budding romance - that goes unspoken.

At senior prom, and feeling she has nothing left to lose, Chloe accepts rocker schoolmate Mark's (Mike Jenkins) marriage proposal and leaves Jimmy behind to get married at Niagara Falls. In a moment of clarity after she leaves, Jimmy decides to risk it all and leave his bubble, by constructing his very own bubble suit, in order to follow her, stop the wedding, and declare his feelings for her. Along the way he meets a cast of characters who shape his thoughts on what he knows about life, the world as his mother has taught him, but most importantly, about himself.

Cast Aside's production is magnificent, and showcases a talented cast of 10 who work together incredibly well, infusing their energy and joy into every scene and song. While the production does have leads, this truly felt like the work of a family, each role as pivotal as the other. It would be remiss to not take a moment to talk about the ensemble work of Kyle Aarons, Danny Gay, Nathan Galvez, Alex Magnaud Jeffrey, Mike Jenkins, and Hayden Jones, all of whom played multiple roles, handling each one with ease. These 6 were the back-bone of the production and did a lion's share. Their energy and enthusiasm were infectious, and you couldn't help but smile and laugh at their performances which were well rounded and incredibly thoughtful.

Jacob Sutherland imbued Jimmy Livingston with a wide-eyed wonder, and navigated Paul's music with ease, even through a plastic bubble - one can imagine that was no easy feat! However, Holly Hinchliffe as Chloe and Amy Torrey as Mrs. Livingston were absolutely captivating. Each one brought a depth to their characters that was palpable to the audience. Neither one took their characters to a place of silliness, which is easily done in a musical comedy, instead they navigated the very fine line with professionalism. The very fact they both embodied their roles and played them with such reality is what brought the comedy of their scenes to life, as well as allowing us to feel the very real sadness each of them felt when Jimmy in essence left them. David Surkin (Mr. Livingston) is a powerful presence, and without giving too much away for those of you going to see the show - and you really should -a true testament to how one can be a stand out without ever saying much at all! My only sadness is that his beautiful voice wasn't used much in the show, and I hope to hear more from him in future productions.

Director, Celeste! Green, not only knows how to use a cast well, but how to utilize a space. She kept the action moving and engaging while cleverly maintaining the sense of confinement for Jimmy locked in a bubble in his bedroom away from society. The Portland Ballet Studio isn't your traditional theatre space; however, its intimate setting and Green's direction is ideal for this show, and made you feel as if you were part of the production. It would be negligent not to mention Green's choreography, it was top notch and added so much to the musical numbers - be that humour or sentimentality. The wonderful dance routine between Chloe and Jimmy in Act 1 is a stand out, as well as the opening full cast number, Bubble Boy. The set design (Surkin) was simple but effective, and the use of projections really added to the flavor of the show. My only nit-picky gripe is the fact sometimes actors weren't lit as well as they should be, but, that is the nature of juggling projections and lighting in a non-traditional theatre space.

An added bonus to last Friday's show, was the presence of Cinco Paul himself, who had traveled to Maine to see Cast Aside's production. It was enthralling to watch him view his own material with fresh eyes and laugh at scenes and songs he has probably seen a thousand times, but his enjoyment was evident, and he seemed incredibly proud - as he should be - of the work Cast Aside had done. They took his amazing piece of theatre and elevated it.

With show stopping numbers such as : Stay Clean( Torrey) - Something Called Forever (Jenkins, Jones, Hinchliffe) - It will be Mark (Sutherland) - Bright and Shiny (ensemble) - Bubble Boy (Full Cast) - you really need to take a night to go see this New England premiere, you won't regret it, it's a bubbly good time!

Runs through July 22nd - Portland Ballet Studio

Tickets available via:

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Photo Credit - Cast Aside Productions

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From This Author Elaine Bard