Why is it that we keep going back to that hole-in-the-wall restaurant around the corner, despite its hackneyed decor, lack of ambience and slow service? It's because the food is so damn good. Similarly, this world-premiere musical features a book (Qui Nguyen) that's amusing but a bit thin, lyrics (Beau Sia) that are clever but not stellar, and pleasant enough vocals (Marc Macalintal); however, the dancing Rynan Paguio's music and Jason Tyler Chong's choreography kills and keeps you coming back. The plot is basically The Karate Kid in Brooklyn, but instead of breaking boards, they're breaking it down b-boy style. "Daniel-san" Norman Lee (Lawrence Kao) and his mother, Jean (Joan Almedilla), are forced to move back from Connecticut to the mean streets she grew up on. "Mr. Miyagi" Sir Master Cert (Blas Lorenzo) takes Norman under his wing after Norman crosses reigning b-boy kings Three-Point (Leng Phe), Hype (Troy Terashita) and L.A. (Cesar Cipriano) in coming to the defense of his friend Wingnut (Matt Tayao). The battle is on and only ramps up when Norman falls for Three-Point's girl, the beautiful Cindy Chang (Liza B. Domingo). Director Tim Dang's clever use of projection screens and his lightning-fast transitions keep the show humming, but its tone remains uneven as Dang alternately plays the text earnestly and tongue-in-cheek. The dance tracks seamlessly incorporate a wide range of musical influences, and the dancers (especially the impressive Phe) contort their bodies in seemingly impossible ways. Highlighting their physical pyrotechnics is Dan Weingarten's nimble, kaleidoscopic lighting, which, combined with Adam Flemming's bold set, creates an amazing "glowffiti" effect that pops and locks. East West Players, 120 Judge John Aiso St., dwntwn.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru June 26; eastwestplayers.org.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: May 18. Continues through June 26, 2011