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Kara Wilkinson in Shadowbox's "Killer Blues" (photo by Studio 66)

They say you can’t have rock ‘n’ roll without the blues, a fact on full display in Shadowbox Live’s new Wednesday night showcase, “Killer Blues,” showing at the troupe’s new Brewery District location (503 S. Front Street, Columbus) through Nov. 9.

When the rock ‘n’ roll and sketch comedy aficionados moved their operation downtown earlier this summer, they did so with the promise that a bigger space would mean more programming. To fulfill this promise the troupe brings back their blues and drama program that was so popular at previous side venture 2Co’s, located in the Short North more than five years ago. An excited and eager 2Co’s fan base met the troupe for the opening of “Killer Blues” on Sept. 21.

Though completely out of synch from their normal rock and laugh heavy Thursday through Saturday showcase, it’s great to see the troupe’s key players show a softer, sexier side we don’t often get to see.

Case in point: longtime Shadowbox vets Julie Klein and Tom Cardinal, whose stunning performances, as a homeless subway dweller and the lawyer she “enlightens” on a typical late night inNew York City, during Roy Berkowitz’s “Killer Blues,” had much of the audience in tears.

The night is filled with goose-bump inducing performances. Such as Kara Wilkinson’s piercing rendition of “Oh Darlin’” by The Beatles, Nikki Fagin’s sultry “Love Me Like a Man” by Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Hahn’s show-stopping take on Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me” (sung in apropos style alongside co-band leader and husband Matthew Hahn).

Noelle Grandison is also a welcome surprise as an angry woman scorned by society, during her delivery of the poem “The World is aBeautiful Place” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Director Stev Guyer didn’t completely leave the troupe’s funny bone at the door. Fagin also puts in a hilarious portrayal of a bumbling, slacker college student who thinks her poor performance on a paper is the fault of everyone but herself, during the Martha King DeSilva’s satire “For Who theBell, Like, Tolls.” And Mary Randle brings out that signature Shadowbox timing during the comedic “It’s Not Just a Cubicle” (also by DaSilva), as a woman who threatens everything up to and including suicide if she is not moved away from sitting next to an annoying co-worker.

I wasn’t fortunate enough to ever catch a 2Co’s show during the side project’s heyday in the early 2000’s, but if this is what those shows were like, it’s no wonder everyone’s rejoicing over its return.

“Killer Blues” runs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday nights through Nov. 9 at Shadowbox Live (503 S. Front Street, Columbus). Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students/seniors. For more information call 614-416-7625 or visit www.shadowboxlive.org.

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