The Studio Theatre MojoBy Mari Davis • Dec 9th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
The Studio Theatre 2ndStage
Studio Theatre, Washington, DC
Through December 26th
2:20 with one intermission
Reviewed December 4th, 2010
Fast-paced, dynamic, and grungy (in the most artistic sense of the word), 2nd Stage’s production of Mojo is a rockabilly roller-coaster that engages audiences. Director Christopher Gallu has assembled a solid cast of actors and streamlined his production to bring it rocketing to its exciting conclusion. Aesthetically the production engages all five senses and brings the audience into the scene. This is a must-see show for retro audiences.
Mojo reflects in the microcosm of a London club the worldwide political upheaval of the 1950’s. When the owner of Ezra’s Atlantic club is murdered, his cronies are hurled headlong into a high-stakes intrigue.
The comedy that won Mojo the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy was really downplayed in this production. Everything was played with such serious intensity that it never felt appropriate to laugh at the comedy. This rigidity was evidenced again in the Cockney accents affected by the actors. Almost across the board, the accent followed dialectical “rules” so, rather than a charming Cockney lilt that should roll off the tongue, their words were regimented and harsh.
Dylan Myers (Skinny) stole the show from where I was sitting. He created a caricature of the quintessential oblivious-and-nerdy-accountant-gone-bad and gave a high-energy performance that blew me away.
Scot McKenzie (Mickey) was a very close second. McKenzie expertly drew out his character’s motivations and portrayed them with a virtuoso’s skill. His performance was compelling and convincing, adding depth and quality to the production.
Daniel Eichner (Baby) probably had the hardest part to portray as Baby does not have a clear motivation. Eichner was energetic and entertaining, but his character never solidified in my mind, remaining the suggestion of an impression.
Although Matt Dewberry (Sweets) and Danny Gavigan (Potts) appeared over-rehearsed and rendered their characters somewhat stale, they kept the show moving forward and successfully revealed the back-story to the audience.
Gallu’s production team created a cohesive production that was stunning. The show is done as theater-in-the-round and forces the audience to become silent partakers in the scene. Set decoration was sufficient to evoke a well-inhabited speakeasy, without overwhelming the audience visually. Terrific lighting illuminated the staging area and included a special effect controlled by one of the actors. I was especially impressed by the use of pitch-black transitions and how effectively the actors moved in the darkness.
Mojo had great period costumes — not contrived or haphazard in the slightest. The doo-wop music tastefully selected came alternately from a jukebox and from overhead speakers. Special effects and rigging were all impressive as well. Well done creative team!
Now, it seems necessary to note that Mojo is a dark and gritty show, definitely NOT for younger audiences. It is coarse, crass, violent, and irreverent. There is a lot of language, so more conservative audiences should steer clear of this one.
2ndStage’s Mojo draws its audience into the scene. The high energy that Christopher Gallu requires from his actors and the clear vision he gave to his creative team gives this show a sense of completeness that is often lacking in community theater. If you like loud music and intrigue, this is the show for you.
Photos by Scott Suchman.
- Silver Johnny: Logan DalBello
- Sweets: Matt Dewberry
- Potts: Danny Gavigan
- Baby: Daniel Eichner
- Skinny: Dylan Myers
- Mickey: Scot McKenzie
- Direction: Christopher Gallu
- Setting: Luciana Stecconi
- Costume: Frank Labovitz
- Lighting: John Burkland
- Sound: Brenden Vierra
- Fight/Dance Choreography: Joe Isenberg
- Dialects: Elizabeth van den Berg
- Rigging: Lewis Shaw
- Stage Management: Marley Monk
- Floor Management: Patrick Magill
- Light Board Operation: Sarah Mackowski
Disclaimer: The Studio Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5978.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.