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BWW Review: ALL THE WAY LIVE! at Kennedy Center is Oh So Fly!

L-R Paige Hernandez and Baye Straightforward Harrell. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Put your hands in the air and wave them up high; it's time to talk about (say it with me!) All the Way Live! The Kennedy Center and B-Fly Entertainment co-commissioned this high-energy and well-crafted show and I can truly say it is a match made in hip-hop heaven.

Co-written and performed by Baye Straightforward Harrell and Paige Hernandez, the show takes us on a wild and wonderful ride as Harrell and Hernandez test their latest creation with the help of our engineers...I mean audience. It is a boombox featuring a radio like no other. The stations don't play the top 40. Each "station," if you will, is a positive quality or attribute such as creativity or respect. Each is explored through a story or rap song. The performers end each of these sections with a rhyme that includes the show's title. As you probably guessed from my feeble attempt at the top of this review, their rhyming skills are way better than mine. The end result is a shot of originality and engaging fun that's very welcome in Theatre for Young Audiences. If you can hold and engage your audience as well as All the Way Live! does, your show is likely to completely succeed.

Now, I must share a few examples of why you should see this show this weekend. It only plays for five performances. With my schedule, I was lucky enough to catch a school time performance.

The first example is the story of the sun and the wind. The wind thinks he is almighty just because he always packs a powerful punch. The sun is gentler in tone. To help prove who has the greater effect on someone, the performers give a jacket to one audience member and whoever gets the person to remove the jacket first, wins. This teaches the lesson that just because you're powerful doesn't mean you win at everything. That's a tease for who wins.

Baye Straightforward Harrell and Paige Hernandez. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Music is also a big part of this show. Between Harrell's killer beatbox and improv rap skills, and music composed by Nick "Nickthe Ida" Hernandez (Paige's talented brother,) this show keeps the audience on its feet with grooves that are infectious. The grooves also lay the foundation for Hernandez and Harrell's material.

As previously stated, Harrell is a true expert in the craft of hip-hop. With his long dreads and nimble body, you can't help but be taken in by his many talents.

Paige Hernandez is the complete performer package personified. She has a lot of energy, and possesses a million dollar smile. She is a multi-talented writer and performer, and has built B-Fly Entertainment into a worldclass performing arts entity. I think that covers everything, don't you? Her raping and rhyming skills match Harrell's making them a winning team.

Another reason you should see the show is the creativity and thought involved. AnDrew Cohen's set takes us inside the boombox while C.C. Gould's lighting keeps the energy high. The radio receiver's stations are displayed with eye popping projections by Sarah Tundermann. Even the buttons on the boombox play an important part of the show. "Stop" represents the fact that you should take a moment and breathe - something many of us forget to do a lot of the time.

Director Raymond O. Caldwell does a great job of letting the material breathe while leaving enough room for audience interaction. He's even worked in something to get the audience quiet if they get too rowdy.

All the Way Live! is the kind of show that all families and lovers of good performance need to go see. Even if hip-hop isn't your thing going in, you won't be able to contain yourself by the end of the show. It's that good!! Hernandez and Harrell, all that's left to be said is thank you!!

Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.

All the Way Live! runs through October 16th 2016 in the Family Theater at The Kennedy Center which is located at 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566. For tickets, click here.

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