The Next Big Thing
Its 1983, and 17-year-old Chip (Brandon Ruckdashel) coerces high school friends Robert (Jason Director) and Mickey (Mike Thompson) into starting a garage band. His bandmates musical inexperience doesnt worry the starry-eyed Chip, who immediately begins auditioning girl singers. The boys get lucky and find the immensely talented Kim (Matisha Baldwin), thereby increasing their chance to play an elite gig: a postprom party hosted by superpopular, big-haired Cyndi (Heather Belling). While all seems to be going well for the band, Chips mother, Melissa (Missy Gibson), bombards her son with negative criticism. Less a has-been than a never-was, Melissa carries a grudge against the entire music industry, particularly her former manager Tom (Curt Bonnem), who naturally signs Chips band. With book by Jeff Favre, the characters are compelling, as are some of Gibson and Mike Flanagans lyrics, but most of Gibson and Flanagans music sounds like recycled Hall and Oates. Sharell Martins fabulous period costumes give this musical comedy the productions best representation of the 1980s. Under Flanagans musical direction, Ellen D. Williams, as Melissas lesbian lover, delivered the evenings strongest vocal performance. As directed by Favre and Rachel Maize, Gibson strikes a rather one-note performance in comparison to Ruckdashel, who demonstrates immense stage presence through quicksilver facial expressions and a dazzling smile. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: July 19. Continues through Aug. 16, 2008
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