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August 24, 2006

Review - New York Fringe


What do you get when you cross Altar Boyz with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee? This is a question I wouldn't have thought to ask myself until I saw Perfect Harmony, and the cheerful answer was staring me in the face: a musical about two a cappella singing groups vying to win an annual high school championship.

Written by director Andrew Grosso and the cast (who call themselves The Essentials), the tuner trails the five-man Acafellas and the four-woman (plus student manager) Ladies in Red as they prepare for and eventually appear in the competition. As the participants gird for battle, the audience gets to know enough about each of them -- and four adults with whom they interact -- to realize they're all adorable, yet suffering one or another typical teenage growing pain. Lassiter (Vayu O'Donnell) and Philip (Noah Weinberg) are too repressed to admit their mutual attraction; Jasper (Blake Whyte) will sing but won't speak; JB Smooter (Scott Janes) is a jock with a voice; Simon Depardieu (David Barlow) is a friendly nerd. Melody McDaniels (Autumn Dornfeld) is an uptight leader; Michaela Dhiardeaubovic (Jeanine Serralles) is a sly minx; Valerie Smooter (Margie Stokley) doesn't like being looked at; Meghan Beans (Maria Elena Ramirez) is a dancing sexpot; Kerri Taylor (Marina Squerciati) manages because her Tourette's Syndrome is a performance risk.

When they harmonize -- the two groups together or separately -- it's well-nigh perfection, as the title promises. The songs chosen to showcase their expertise include a number of familiar and pertinent chart ditties -- including Bill Withers' "Lean On Me" and George Michael's "Freedom." Since there's no band required and no call for elaborate sets, the enterprise is a potential bargain for future producers, although. rights to the songs could run into real money.

Posted by acapnews at August 24, 2006 12:40 AM