Approaching the one year anniversary of moving into their new Brewery District space, it seemed an appropriate time for Shadowbox live to roll out a calm, laidback revue of the past year. However, much like their new edgy warehouse space, the "Best of Shadowbox Live 2012" serves not to relax and reflect, but to accelerate the talent machine that is Shadowbox Live to even higher levels of comedic and musical brilliance.
The house band, Bill Who? led off the evening with The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" including vocals by JT Walker III, Noelle Grandison, Amy Lay, and Katy Psneicka- all veteran performers who individually are each fabulous, and as an ensemble, perfection. Following the opening musical number was the skit, "Inside Man" about a shy guy's (David Whitehouse) attempt to date a pretty girl (Nikki Fagin). Also onstage are his heart (Jimmy Mak), Brain (Matt Hahn), and Libido (Julie Klein) in a hilarious portrayal of the shy guy's inner dialogue between the three. Billy DePetro gives the end of the scene an additional comedic "lift", and the wittiness of the dialogue throughout is quite fun.
Back to the music, Jennifer Hahn was up next on lead vocals for Alannah Myles' classic "Black Velvet". This was a sultry, sexy number with a simple, but perfect set, low lighting, and rock-solid vocals by Hahn and her back-up, the ever enchanting Stacie Boord.
Julie Klein followed as Gracie in "Doll Counseling", in which she played a little girl counseling Barbie (Amy Lay) and Ken (JT Walker III) through Ken's suspicion that Barbie has had an affair with G.I. Joe (Billy DePetro). Klein's spunky and sassy Gracie paired with the stiff-armed Barbie and Ken make for a Toy Story gone wrong comedic genius. Shadowbox does a fabulous job at exploiting stereotyped characters, and this is no exception.
"Battle Stations" was a dialogue-free sketch of a couple feuding via the flipping of radio stations while driving. Each sound byte of a song characterized a part of their argument, with Stacie Boord's facial expressions hilariously berating JT Walker as the in-the-doghouse significant other. "Faithfully", he continues flipping radio stations until he manages to win her back.
A triple guitar rendition of Joe Satriani's "Surfin' with the Alien" by Matt Hahn, Chris Lambert and Dante Wehe gave me whiplash to watch, but was pretty impressive musically.
Stev Guyer as "The Fairy Godfather" shows up next to make all of Cinderella's (Amy Lay) dreams come true. This was a well-written sketch, including BranDon Anderson with a funny bit as the Tailor- the only distraction being that the "godfather" lost his much-needed accent mid-sketch. None-the-less, the Godfather agrees to send Cinderella to the ball, as long as someday, he can "call on her for a favor".
Then, Stacie Boord is back with a gorgeous version of Duran Duran's "Ordinary World", with background vocals by Kara Wilkinson, Noelle Grandison, and Tom Cardinal. Ms. Boord is one of the most enigmatic performers, typically refusing to let any audience member passively enjoy the show. However, this number was an understated, simple one that just showcased what a vocal powerhouse she continues to be.
The sketch, "Passion Hospital" was a take on those ridiculous, clichéd, over-acted soap operas in with Mary (Amy Lay) and patient John's (David Whitehouse) relationship is complicated my Dr. Creamy (JT Walker III) in English, Spanish, and perhaps most funny, Russian. Under the Director's (Mary Randle) guidance, hilarity is bound to ensue.