My Trip to See the Benny Co.

June 11, 1998

Well, our day got off to a busy start. Larry, Bernard and I went to an early matinee of The Truman Show, which is a whole other review. Then Alexa picked Larry and me up in her shiny new car, and we headed down to Providence. The drive from Boston is pretty quick. We only got moderately lost (well, okay, we were pretty lost, but this cute fireman gave us directions), and we parked on Federal Hill. There we tried to go visit the tattoo studio that I want to get tattooed at, but they were closed early for some mysterious reason, so we couldn't scope it out and examine their autoclave or whatever it is you're supposed to do. Too bad. My friend Muneer, who was visiting his parents in R.I., came and had dinner with us, and I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was tasty Italian food.

Then we managed to find the Providence Performing Arts Center without too much trouble. We were hanging around watching the crowds collect and doing some nasty fashion commentary, when this woman comes charging over to Larry from across the street. It turns out she was his aerobics instructor and they were buds. She and her friend were with a busload of friends and family of Anika Larsen, one of the Benny Co understudies who was on as Maureen that night. So we chatted with her and her friend, and got some inside scoop on Anika, which was cool. Then we went into our seats. The PPAC is oversized, and our seats were in the back of the orchestra. Kind of far away for my tastes, but pretty good nonetheless.

Okay, here's my generalized commentary on the performance(s). Overall it was a pretty uneven show, I thought. Some great moments, and some really mediocre ones. I was really not into Kirk McDonald (Mark). He has a Southern accent, which threw me, and he generally wasn't that energetic. He's cute and has a nice presence, and did a very good LVB, though. His singing voice isn't bad.

Adrian Morgan (Roger), who will replace Adam in London, was also kind of disappointing. He has Adam's body type, small and compact, but there the resemblance stops. His singing voice is kind of thin and reedy, and he didn't sound like a rock singer. Also I thought his Roger was pretty passive and just depressed, and awfully hostile with Mimi a lot of the time. During Another Day, I really thought he was going to hit her, he was trying to throw her out the door so violently. I did really like Your Eyes, though, which is often a boring song. His voice suits it somehow. I was disappointed with What You Own, which is usually my favorite number. They kind of just stood there, and it wasn't particularly epiphanous (if that's a word).

Julia Santana (Mimi) was very good. She has a nice voice, and captured Mimi's contradictory natures well. Her bar work was ok, and she smacked herself a lot, but unfortunately my sister wasn't there to appreciate it. D'Monroe (Benny) was really good. Very energetic, and put a lot into the part.

Andy Senor (Angel) was also very good. He and Mark Leroy Jackson (Collins) had really nice, affectionate chemistry, but they wimped out on some of the kissing. At first I was very put off by Mark Jackson, who isn't that tall and doesn't have much of a lower register in his singing voice, but he really grew on me. His ICY Reprise was SO beautiful, starting out quiet and intimate, like a lullabye, in a way I haven't heard anyone sing it before.

The Maureen and Joanne stuff was AWESOME. Definitely the highlight. Anika was fabulous, and her Over The Moon was hilarious. She has great presence, a terrific voice and is so funny. A perfectly balanced Maureen. She and Monique Daniels have great chemistry, and TMOLM was so, so, so good and high energy, and the applause went on and on.

Wichasta Reese, the first SOL soloist, is out of control with her gorgeous voice.

Overall, it was fun, but I really had a hard time turning off my OBC comparisons, especially since the last show I saw was London. I am very spoiled, I think, and I need to just get over myself already. I kept reminding myself to just enjoy the show, but visions of Ant and Adam and Jesse kept getting in the way. The best part was seeing the show with Larry and Alexa, two of my best and greatest friends. Larry had never seen the show at all, so it was really cool to get to see his reactions, and that more than anything else reminded me to just shut my internal narratives up already. So in that way it was a great evening...

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