Shadowbox is currently running their annual love-themed show for the Valentine’s Day season, this time taking a deeper look at what moves us externally. I finally got a chance to check out “Body Language” this past weekend after its Jan. 5 opening. The show was pretty amazing but not without a few missteps.
The show gets off to a slow start with a few misfires early on. A “Daddy’s Little Girl” sketch, starring David Whitehouse and Katy Psenicka as parents who discuss if their pre-pubescent daughter is ready for “the talk,” plays it a little too safe. The sketch “Unspoken Language” stars Jimmy Mak and Stacie Boord as a couple who meet at a silent film convention and dissolves into parody of the style. The tribute has a pretty interesting premise but lacks in execution.
There are also a few missteps with song choice in the first act. Brandon Anderson opens with a lackluster rendition of “Foxey Lady” by Jim Hendrix, while Julie Klein follows with a healthy belt during Bryan Adams’ “Run to You,” but the arrangement left me a bit cold.
Things take a sharp turn for the better once Stephanie Shull and Shadowbox band Bill Who? bring the house down with a goose-bumps-inducing rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Never Loved a Man,” and from then on the show just keeps soaring. Klein and the voice of Jimmie Mak show brilliant comedic timing in “Long Way Home,” a cleverly written sketch featuring Mak as a mouthy GPS system and Klein as a scorned woman reluctant to take its advice.
Act two gets even better with brilliant arrangements of Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet” and Prince’s pivotal hit “Purple Rain.” Co-band leader Jennifer Hahn and Boord are a perfect vocal match during their duet on “Velvet,” while “Rain” is transformed into a moving full cast choral ensemble. And they also get the chance to get it right when the go for another try at an “unspoken” sketch. “Battle Stations” stars JT Walker III and Boord as a feuding couple on a road trip using only popular tunes from the radio to play out their hilarious discourse.
Shadowbox definitely takes some risks this time around, most of which pay off in spades. There aren’t very many recurring characters, which shows amazing growth and the show builds on itself, getting better and better with each passing sketch. Take my advice and make room in both you and your love’s schedules for this one.
“Body Language” runs at Shadowbox Live (503 S. Front Street, Columbus) through March 3. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students/seniors. For more information visit www.shadowboxlive.org.