BRIGHT LIGHTS AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
REVIEW: THUG TUNNEL
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
Original musicals are one of the most difficult things to write and in the case of Hollywood Fringe, sometimes just as difficult to sit through. This is because often writers simply are not aware of the intricacies involved in writing a good musical—this is a especially a challenge in L.A. What you often get here are half-baked stories and clichéd music, however, this is not the case for Robot Teammate & The Accidental Party’s collaborative musical Thug Tunnel. With this show only one word comes to mind: “FRESH”. Collectively the book, music, lyrics and performance of this work is entertaining and engaging from beginning to end. Thug Tunnel is a gritty and contemporary new Fringe musical that takes the audience on a whirlwind adventure full of catchy dance music and vivid characters.
Unlike most musicals that have creators consisting of three people maximum, Thug Tunnel is credited with eight writers. This fact could pose as a liability, but instead is a direct correlation to the show’s triumph. What you get here are actors singing songs written for themselves; songs tailored to their vocal strengths and personalities; and actors playing characters that they’ve also written, they’re part of a story that they are both familiar and invested. Thug Tunnel is using a new formula for a creating musicals, and although not perfect, it is certainly valid and effective as Hollywood Fringe Festival entry.
The direction by Molly Dworsky is simple and fluid—Dworsky gives her actors just enough direction to be focused while leaving room for them to play in the thug tunnel arena. Another exciting aspect of the musical is the choreography, a credit that may also be a group effort; the dances are wild, athletic, lively and fun. Once they start dancing it’s like lighting a Roman candle onstage—sparks and fire everywhere.
The unique background and relationship of the cast adds a refreshing dynamic to the show. These are impov actors acting in a musical, giving them a leg up on the typical musical theater actors who live and die by their cues and script. Instead, Thug Tunnel‘s cast is ready for anything and they perform this musical in a fancy-free mode. On top of that, since they have all worked together for many years, their chemistry is strong and ever-present.
The lead in the show Kat Primeau (Petunia) exudes unbroken kinetic energy; she’s the lifeblood of the show. Her songs range from emotional to all-absorbing rock-out good times and her dance moves that follow are a blast. The central comedic figure in the show, and audience favorite, is Dave Reynolds (Stabby Rick) who from his first entrance has the audience laughing out loud. Reynolds gives all he’s got to his larger than life character and the payoff is worth it. Nikki Muller (Breakin’ Necks Becky) shows off her comic soprano tessitura in her featured solo and brings so much dimension to her villainess character. Take a look at any actor in this show and you’ll find they poured their hearts into this project to put on a good show.
WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC DIRETOR?
Music director and composer Sam Johnides is fantastic—he’s keeps the trains running smoothly at the keyboard like no other. He and the band give rock star performances that make you want to get up and dance. Furthermore, Johnides is a remarkable musical chameleon that takes us through many styles and funky grooves throughout the show.
If you want a guaranteed good time at this year’s Hollywood Fringe take a trip down the Thug Tunnel and meet the colorful and trashy characters—you’ll be glad you did!
You can see Thug Tunnel at the Sacred Fools Theater Main Stage (1076 Lillian Way, LA, CA 90038). The show is family friendly (Ages 13+) and runs 55 minutes. Admission is $15 ($12 for Fringe participants).
CLICK HERE for a Tin Pan L.A. Exclusive with Kat Primeau and Molly Dworsky!
Friday, June 10, 2016- 11:30 PM
Sunday, June 12, 2016- 6:00 PM
Friday, June 17, 2016- 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 18, 2016- 4:30 PM
Sunday, June 19, 2016- 9:30 PM
Monday, June 20, 2016- 11:00 PM
For more information and tickets visit: www.hollywoodfringe.org