Shadowbox Live keeps stepping off their well-beaten path with each passing production and their latest offering, “Smoke & Mirrors” (running through May 5), is no exception.
Instead of focusing their spring showcase on cliched seasonal topics of tropical vacations and Spring Break, the sketch comedy/rock ‘n’ roll troupe took on the theme of mystery and illusion, even enlisting the help of popular Columbus illusionist Michael Kent. It’s a great idea that offers a few high points, but the follow through doesn’t always hit the mark.
The second act is much stronger than the first, offering as a highlight of the evening “Perplexity,” lifted from their Ballet Met collaboration “7 Deadly Sins.” Julie Klein and Stacie Boord’s strong vocals belt above dancers clad in medieval Phatom of the Opera garb. The routine features a superb Renee Horton as a central ballerina being “puppeted” by Klein and Boord.
One of my favorite Shadowbox sketches, the radio sleuth spoof “Dr. Mystery” returns featuring a hilarious Robbie Nance as Vaudevillian. Klein and Boord also shine in the sketch “Political Figures of Speech,” where a political candidate (Boord) surprisingly wins over a crowd when her campaign manager (Klein) accidentally fills her speech with bedroom innuendo.
The first act sees a few misses including “Wizard of Pawns” a well staged but poorly executed satire mixing fairy tale characters with the show “Pawn Stars.” And the skit “Genie Adviser” goes off the rails early, a cliched look at two typical chauvinistic males (Nance and Billy DePetro) who find a genie (Klein) and are offered three wishes.
Shadowbox house band BillWho? shines throughout the night. The Stephanie Shull-led “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is a delectable treat as is the three harmonied “Killer Queen,” featuring Boord, Amy Lay and Nikki Fagin.
“Smoke & Mirrors” is definitely a bit uneven artistically but this may be accounted for with the fact that the show opened during the run of their Stage 2 production “Torch Songs” and their popular run of the musical “Rent.” The show is definitely enjoyable, as are most nights at Shadowbox, but even Superman knew when he was wearing himself to thin.
“Smoke and Mirrors” runs through May 5 at Shadowbox Live, 503 S. Front Street, Columbus. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students. Fore more information visit.