|Written by Thom White – River Cities Reader –|
Director/choreographer Patrick Stinson, here, creates a realistic boy-band stage show, complete with high energy and impressive dance moves, and also incorporates concert stage effects (including smoke) and images projected on a rear screen – a mixture of religious clip art and pictures of Donald Trump, Jim Carrey, and Mr. Spock.
The five cast members blend quite well, vocally, and create a fake professional pop ensemble that’s as good as a real one. They also bring individual flavor to each of their portrayals. Eric Chambliss is confident, and rather dreamy, as Matthew, the lead singer of the band. Bello Pizzamenti’s attitude makes clear that his Luke is the tough boy of the bunch. Brian Bowman, as Juan, gets to play up a Hispanic accent and, in one number, demonstrate fascinatingly fast flamenco-style arm movements, but also has moments, through his over-emphasized wailing, that are hysterical and tender at the same time. Joseph Feldman seems to ground the group with his straightforward, confident turn as Abraham, the Jewish member of the band. And Brian Cowing makes his Mark’s sexuality clear through his hand gestures and physicality, yet without making him a gay caricature.
While each actor is worth watching for the individualizing mannerisms they bring to their characters, none is more captivating than Cowing. Sure, he’s got the most fun role to portray, but it’s his consistency that makes Mark so delightful; without overplaying, the actor – cocking his head here and snapping his wrist there – delivers one giggle-inducing moment after another. This is also kind of a shame, since the other actors deserve some of the attention Cowing pulls from them, but as a group, the performers still help create the most polished production I’ve yet seen on the Showboat stage. And the summer season has only just begun.