Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Reviews: DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG from Balagan at ACT

What happens when you take an already wonderful show and, due to popular demand, remount it in a larger venue?  Well, sometimes the results can be disastrous.  But Balagan Theatre's remount of their production of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog", which sold out back in August, manages to take what worked before, improve upon it, and then add in the resources of ACT to create a show to rival the first.  If the Six Million Dollar Man taught us anything it's that, "We have the technology.  We can make him bigger, stronger, "and even more Horrible!

For those that are not familiar with the internet sensation that spawned this story from writers Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Zack Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, then where have you been?  Dr. Horrible (aka Billy) wants nothing more than to be inducted into the Evil League of Evil, an organization to all things, well, evil.  But Billy wants nothing more than to get the nerve to talk to the girl at the laundromat, Penny.  So when Dr. Horrible's heist goes awry thanks to his nemesis, Captain Hammer, which also introduces the Captain to the lovely Penny, what's a super villain to do?  He straps on his death ray and concocts a plan to win the girl, destroy the hero and prove to Bad Horse (the leader of the league) that he is ELE material.

Director Kate Jaeger had no small task on her hands putting this show up.  Not only was she stepping in to re-direct an already wonderful show, but also to put it up in a much larger venue.  But not to worry, the heart, charm and sweetness of the original is still there but mixed up with new and even more exciting elements.  And with Music Director Kimberly Dare (who brilliantly orchestrated the original production along with Rob Scherzer and Eric Ankrim who also co-directed the original production with M. Elizabeth Eller) and choreographer Michael Jenkinson (gotta love any show with laundry baskets and stick horses in production numbers) Jaeger has taken the show to a whole new level.

But the show is nothing without a stellar cast.  Jake Groshong and Annie Jantzer are back as the swaggering Captain Hammer and the damsel Penny, but this time there's a new "villain" in town with the adorable William A. Williams as Dr. Horrible (moving up from his previous role as Steve).  Groshong has taken the puffed up hero to new heights.  His previous incarnation was hilarious but now he's even more so with even more refined timing.  Jantzer is glorious as Penny, the girl caught in the middle.  With a gorgeous voice, my previous complaint was that I didn't feel the conflict from her.  Well, she has infused that and so much more into her lovely performance.  And Williams has stepped up and completely made the part his own.  He's not doing the movie, he's not mimicking his predecessor, he's infused this anti-hero with his own heart and attitude and come up with a truly great character.  I enjoyed him in the original production and he's even better here.

And yes, that insanely talented ensemble is back (most of them) and they brought along a few friends for the ride.  Brian Lange, Diana Huey, Christine Nelson, Ashley Flannegan and Butch Stevenson are now joined with the talented Evan Woltz, Daniel Stoltenberg, EmilyRose Frasca and Bobby Temple to show that you can improve upon perfection.  Special kudos to the boys who kept those amazing harmonies alive in the "Bad Horse" number, Nelson and Woltz for their show stopping "$10 Solo", Lange and the "Moist Towelettes" for "Moist's Lament" and Huey for once again explaining why "There are no Asians in the Movies".

And if that weren't enough, the set, props, and tech of the show seems to have left the barn (or rather basement of the Noodle House) behind and gotten all grown up.  Complete with a few new hidden jokes for the Whedon groupies (what was that Weather Girl's name?) the show has gone from the minor leagues to the majors.  In the lexicon of the English language, we have often appropriated negative words and given them positive connotations.  "Bad" can mean "Good".  "Dope" isn't an insult.  And "Phat" breaks down into something everyone wants to be.  And after last night's show I have a new one.  I hereby decree that "Horrible" is the new "Awesome".  And this production is HORRIBLE!!!

"Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" performs at ACT's Allen Theatre through February 12th.  For tickets or information contact the box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at http://www.acttheatre.org/Shows/OnStage/DrHorriblesSingAlongBlog or www.balagantheatre.org.

Photo Credit: Andrea Huysing




From This Author - Jay Irwin

         Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years.  He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting... (read more about this author)


Review: CLOUD TECTONICS from Sound Theatre Company And EarthseedReview: CLOUD TECTONICS from Sound Theatre Company And Earthseed
September 25, 2022

Dear Readers, I am a sucker for both a sweet love story and even more so when we mix in a little magical realism. Movies like “Amelie” or plays like “O Lovely Glowworm, or Scenes of Great Beauty” are some of my favorites. So, something like Jose Rivera’s “Cloud Tectonics”, currently playing at 12th Avenue Arts from Sound Theatre Company and Earthseed, should be right up my alley. And while I find it a sweet little love story, I have to emphasize the “little”. There’s not a whole lot to it. But then, that works well since it's only an intermissionless 90 minutes.

Review: THE GRISWOLDS' BROADWAY VACATION at The 5th Avenue TheatreReview: THE GRISWOLDS' BROADWAY VACATION at The 5th Avenue Theatre
September 23, 2022

The Griswolds’ have been to Wally World, they’ve visited family for Christmas, and they’ve nearly destroyed Europe on their vacations. And now, they’ve loaded up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and are hitting Broadway in the new musical at the 5th Avenue Theatre, “The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation”. Are the Griswolds ready for Broadway? No. And by the Griswolds’ I mean the characters as well as this show. But just like the Griswolds the show does grow and with a little bit of work (or a lot of work) they and it just might make it on the Great White Way.

Review: CHOIR BOY at ACT TheatreReview: CHOIR BOY at ACT Theatre
September 22, 2022

Dear Readers, I’m going to set the “Way Back Machine” to 2011 where I was first introduced to the works of playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney as the Seattle Rep had produced his stunning “The Brothers Size”, a show that hit me so hard in the gut that I think about it to this day. And while I was still reeling from it in 2012, he presented his astounding “Choir Boy” at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Eventually it made its way to Broadway in 2019 to a huge outpouring of critical acclaim. Sadly, I missed that run but then ACT announced they would be bringing it to Seattle … in 2020. Yup, you guessed it. It didn’t happen then thanks to the pandemic. But now, thanks to the theatre gods, ACT, in conjunction with the 5th Avenue Theatre, have made good on their promise of presenting this amazing work and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Village TheatreReview: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Village Theatre
September 18, 2022

Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s “Little Shop of Horrors” is arguably one of those near perfect musicals. I will argue with you on this from now until the plants take over the earth as it remains my absolute favorite. But it needs to be done right. That’s not to say it needs to be done the same way every time. One of the best productions I saw was a modern retelling set in a real skid row. But this B-movie sci-fi adaptation needs to have that humor, that crispness, and that bite to make it work. And while the current production from Village Theatre has some wonderful performances and voices, it suffers from a lack of pace and that crispness and bite to take it from a fun show to a killer one.

Review: WHERE WE BELONG at Seattle RepReview: WHERE WE BELONG at Seattle Rep
September 15, 2022

The history of colonization of indigenous lands in this country and other countries is a sensitive subject that many shy away from. But then to look at it from the viewpoint of those that have been displaced goes a long way to recognizing the issues and keep them from continuing. Madeline Sayet and her amazing play “Where We Belong”, currently playing at the Seattle Rep gives a wonderful insight into this topic and specifically her viewpoint and how it affected her and her Mohegan culture.