POWER BALLADZ OFF-BROADWAY REVIEW
Reviewed by Sasha Pensanti
Being a die-hard musical theatre fan made me initially skeptical of this new trend of interactive off-Broadway shows. I found myself wondering what they had to offer, if I'd have a good time, and what brought this to the forefront of the off-Broadway scene. Sitting down at a table reserved for us, surrounded by mist from the fog machines on stage and the waitresses serving drinks, I didn't know what to expect. What I should have thought to myself was, "This is going to be a really fun night," because it was.
The stars of the show, best friends from high school, Dieter Bierbrauer and Scott Richard Foster open the show by promising "a journey of memories" as well as "a journey of really fuckin' awesome music!" Both are delivered with a side order of teased hair and spandex. They're backed by a band of top-notch musicians who would probably never be caught dead in a Broadway theatre, but look like they're having the time of their lives rocking out on stage. Right off the bat you know this show is different by the fact that it's interactive. The cast members are talking directly to the audience, walking through the audience and pausing to give us lessons on what makes a power ballad (in case you're curious, to be a power ballad, a song must include an acoustic beginning--guitar or piano, it's gotta ride the back of an amazing drum build, and have a face melting guitar solo--air or real). The thing that makes Power Balladz stand out amongst it's off-Broadway compadres is that it's not typical musical theatre. In other words, you can bring your boyfriend to the show and you won't owe him for it later.
The truth about a lot of 80s rock songs is that they require quite a bit of vocal prowess. When you're talking power-ballads, this is magnified times twenty. Many of the greats of the past decades had amazing voices and vocal ranges (Steven Tyler, anyone?). These guys are able to sing incredibly high notes with a lot of strength, and they never end up sounding girly. It's an extremely attractive quality that kept girls throwing their bras on stage all through the 80s and 90s.
Is the show similar to Rock of Ages on Broadway? Only in the fact that it uses some of the same songs. Power Balladz isn't a Broadway Musical, it's a musical experience that doesn't try too hard to hit you over the head with plot. If you're looking for a quiet night at the theatre, this show definitely isn't for you. If you want to hang with your friends and rock out to some amazing music? This is probably the place to be. One of the greatest parts about the show is that the music is loud enough for everyone to sing along without bugging the crap out of their neighbor, that's definitely not possible at a Broadway show.
Power Balladz is a crowd pleaser. It's got everything from nerf gun fights to "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi to everyone in the audience getting up and slow dancing to the Journey hit "Faithfully." They had a boat, and a make-shift music video, a t-shirt cannon and trivia. What more could you want? Oh, yeah, a "is it a power ballad or not?" medley, where we all got to sing along and give our input on whether or not we thought a song fit into the category or not. Now, I said there isn't a hard-set plot, but that doesn't mean the show is free from storyline. There's a little somethin-somethin' to keep those of us who are used to regular theatre interested, too. Two best friends, a girl, love, loss, what I...wait, no, that's a different off Broadway show. But really, the audience just ate up every moment of the show. The fact of the matter is, people like good music, and this is really great music.
Go see Power Balladz. Take your friends, a huge group of them. Have some drinks. Sing along. It'll be one of the best nights you've had in a long time.
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