Theatre in Review

It’s fitting that the opening tune of Gobsmacked! declares, “Turn up the radio, blast your stereo right,” because the show is essentially a live jukebox. The seven performers sing and beat-box their way through songs that span the decades, from The Beatles to David Bowie to Duffy to The Black-Eyed Peas.

Hailing from the UK on its first American tour, Gobsmacked! both is and isn’t your typical a cappella show. The range of song choices is certainly wider than, say, a high school or even college a cappella show. I, for one, did not expect to hear a soulful rendition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and a boppy “Let’s Get It Started” in the same night, much less the same hour. But, the wide range of songs notwithstanding, what the show doesn’t do is go deeper.

The hour and forty-five minute performance tried have some sort of linking theme – all the performers held paper hearts at one point except for one guy's whose was cut in half and this was never explained or brought up ever again? – but ultimately failed at being something more than just a musical showcase. Which would be fine with me, I am honestly just there for the music. I would rather see that than performers awkwardly trying to act during these non-musical transitions between songs.

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The cast are all incredibly talented, to be sure. The beatboxer, Ball Zee, was amazing at single-handedly holding down the backbeat of every single song as well as providing transitional sound effects. The guy can do anything, noise-wise. While all six singers sounded fantastic and on-point, I was most impressed by the redheaded Joanne Evans. The most emotive of the vocalists, I found my eye - and ear - drawn to her frequently. Everyone onstage had the chops, but Evans was the only one I actually believed. She owned her “…Man’s World” solo, and I was shook.

All in all, if you like live music, pop tunes, and a some healthy cheesiness, like moi, Gobsmacked! will fit the bill just right.

Gobsmacked is playing at the Broadway Playhouse at 175 E. Chestnut St. through Sunday. Tickets at 800-775-2000 and broadwayinchicago.com.

Published in Theatre in Review

 

 

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