EFR - Reviews of Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvise Full Band Musical!

Baby Wants Candy: The Completely Improvise Full Band Musical!

Wed 1st – Mon 27th August 2012

reviews

Bridget Wynne Willson

at 09:50 on 5th Aug 2012

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Walking into the lecture theatre of ‘Baby Wants Candy’ is a highlight of the show; the improvisational band jams away as we enter and the atmosphere is lively, delightful and promises a brilliant show to come. The audience is hyped up (I’m worried at this point that the energetic girl in front will ruin my note-taking attempts) and we feel that we are in for a treat.

This expectation is, largely, fulfilled. The cast, comprising of Al Samuels, Ashley Ward, Nick Semar, Amber Petty and Chris Grace, is incredibly talented and clearly brilliant at what they do. Audience suggestions are thrown about as to the title of the evening’s musical and before we know it “Cavemen Like Potatoes” is selected. This is the show’s only major flaw: a disappointing title. With past titles such as “When Gingers Rule the World” and “Fifty Shades of Gay”, I feel somewhat let down.

What follows is a witty and catchy musical depicting vegetarian cavemen, butterfly overlords and a few time-travelling love stories. It is a success and the cast provides not only genuinely hilarious moments, but also songs that composers and songwriters could, with a sense of humour, be proud of. They are clearly good at what they do, smooth, in control and enjoying themselves, if at times a little smugly aware of their talent. Awkward moments are, when they arise, made amusing through self-consciousness and running gags provide the foundation for the comedy.

The real stars of 'Baby Wants Candy' are, in my opinion, the live band, without whose attention to the cast and plot development the show simply would not work. In addition, those responsible for lighting and set are constantly kept on their toes, adequately coping with the curveballs thrown as the musical progresses.

The problem with reviewing a show such as this, and naturally its most entertaining feature, is the fact that it will be different every night. It is a joy to watch, but that joy is largely dependent upon the calibre of audience suggestions; I would advise to come prepared and shout loudly.

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Joel Singer

at 10:11 on 5th Aug 2012

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This American cast present 27 entirely original and improvised musicals each and every night, based solely on audience suggestions. While this incredibly difficult feat automatically deserves commendation, the show (at least the one viewed on this particular evening) fails to live up to its high expectations, but talented singers, bizarre humour and clever choreography all provide a thoroughly entertaining watch.

Musically the entire ensemble is incredibly sharp, with each singer given the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in both solos and harmonies, and particularly impressing with shrewd yet evidently spontaneous rhymes. Equally, the accompanying band who are forced to create original and, most importantly, varied songs were great and worked closely with the whims of the on-stage improvisations through non-verbal communications.

The humour of the ensemble works on a range of levels: from bawdy (as one actress confesses to being a “cup slut”) to rather dark wit, including a Team America-inspired composition entitled “The Future is Shit”. My particular highlight was the clever satire of Broadway musicals, complete with lovers finding a happily-ever-after ending and mocking the stereotype of the genre with numbers such as “I’ll Open the Door to My Heart.” Another special mention must be reserved for the astute on-the-spot dance choreography that was often the main source of the play’s comedy, making the most of the minimalist set to garner laughter.

The cast are all talented at both singing and improvising, but Nick Semar and Al Samuels in particular stood out as the most constant and original sources of humour. As with any improvisation, there are parts that work and others that don’t, and leaving the suggestion up to one audience member is incredibly brave and leaves the potential for a very difficult show: for example this particular show was branded “Cavemen Like Potatoes.” As I’m sure you can imagine, this meant the play began with a rather shaky start, but as the idea was extrapolated over the course of the hour the characters somehow managed to make a comedy that was, although at times baffling, for the most part very funny. The atmosphere created by the troupe is enjoyable and while it was not a faultless performance, it can definitely be described as a thoroughly entertaining and impressive hour.

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