An all-male chorus in Vermont tries to get in tune.
Mon Mar 8 2010
CHORUS OF DISAPPROVAL Speights, left, conducts a rehearsal.
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5
Jokes and wisecracks ricochet throughout Glee Club with such rapid-fire force that audiences risk mental whiplash. But the gags do succeed in making Matthew Freeman’s edgy but slight comedy about the eight dysfunctional men of a Vermont glee club appear heftier than it is. Freeman’s short play unfolds like a canny situation comedy, with pushy, beleaguered choir director Ben (Stephen Speights) trying to coax, cajole and bully his seven warblers through a rehearsal of the song that they’re due to perform for the elderly donor who is their sole funder (a delightful ditty by Speights called “The World Will Make You Smile”).
Aside from their vocal harmonies, there’s not much glee in these singers’ lives. Mark (Robert Buckwalter) is mired in a messy divorce, Greg (Carter Jackson) is convinced he has cancer (although no one else is), and Paul (Steven Burns of Blue’s Clues fame) has the personality of a serial killer (“Next person who speaks gets buried under my deck”). But the real problem child proves to be the soloist they’re counting on. Hank (Tom Staggs) has picked this inconvenient time to combat his alcohol addiction and discovers he can’t perform sober. How the choirboys respond to this crisis may not be surprising, but the outcome is.
Kyle Ancowitz has cast the show with a fine bunch of character actors, but a gentler approach to the comedy might have yielded more power. Laughs are frequently forced instead of earned, and the stakes should seem higher. But that can happen when you hold one note for too long.—Diane Snyder
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