By Bob Evans
Get tickets now and cross your fingers that shows do not sell out before you make the call to The Chestnut Fine Arts Center for the newest production, “Doo Wop Boys,” that opened Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 16.
Patterned after a similar showcase of Boy Bands that Artistic Producer Brad Zimmerman created several years ago, this show highlights men singers and male groups of the 1950s and 1960s with rapid-fire melody after melody in a stunning and energetic show full of fun, laughs, memories, and choreography. The Boy Bands show nearly sold out and with the popularity of such shows, “Doo Wop Boys” could sell out as soon as word spreads on the quality and mass appeal of this show.
“Doo Wop Boys” entertains on all levels. A kindergarten student would be mesmerized with the fast pace of the shows, the costumes, the movement, and the music. Worth noting, audience members in their 70s would know 90 percent of the music and could sing along. The one big challenge might be to dust off the old Hand Jive skills and participate as Kansas City’s favorite drummer, Ken Remmert leads the audience in the participation piece “Willy and the Hand Jive.”
For this songfest, Zimmerman nabbed four local performers who know how to perform rather than just sing. Taylor Avazpour, Patrick Lewallen, T. Eric Morris, and Chris Owen make the show come alive engaging. Their voices resonate through the auditorium as they sing and dance their way through each act. Their sharp movements come courtesy of Mindy Moritz who choreographed each number and step to keep them all moving throughout the two acts.
As background, the 3-piece combo of Brian Wilson on bass, Ken and Lenora Remmert on percussion and piano, absolutely add depth to the show. Wilson one of the best bass players in the Metro never fails to draw attention. Ken Remmert, the Gene Krupa of KC, on percussion, again, one of the best in Kansas City, is a show by himself on drums. Remmert’s wife, Lenora pounds the 88s with a
light touch that sets the tone of each song. The band becomes the fifth member of the performance group.
Act I features such songs as “My Girl,” “All Shook Up,” “Oh, Carol,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Who Put the Bomp,” “Mack the Knife,” “Tammy,” “Rockin’ Robin,” and many more. Act II devoted more time to medleys from The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Christmas Doo Wop songs, with even more electricity than Act I. Other features songs in Act II include: “Unchained Melody,” “Sha-Boom,” “Runaway,” “Daydream Believer,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Puppy Love,” and “Goodnight Sweetheart.”
But, not just the music, band, and dance of the show entertain, the commentary provided generates laughs and instills the idea of “party time” for the audience. By intermission of opening night, the crowd voiced their approval of the show in the aisles by talking to friends, in the lobby laughing and commenting on what they just saw, and in the concession area as they talked about the upcoming numbers for Act II.
When the audience shows total buy-in by intermission and discusses what they just experienced and anticipates what’s next, the show definitely entertains the patrons. A standing ovation at the end of the final song continues to display the audience excitement for appreciation for the show.
Zimmerman’s shows always entertain his patrons. This particular show will attract new patrons to The Chestnut. The appeal of the show entertains all ages. The set and costumes are vibrant. The music, light and lively just makes the audience feel good. The energy projected by the performers allows the audience to fuel that energy with their own.
Opening nights test the performers who cannot know or feel the success of a show until they have an audience to fuel their performances. Act I starts off with energy and the opening night crowd responded with smiles, applause and generated their own energy to “Doo Wop Boys.” By Act II both audience and performers intensified the energy to another level.
“Doo Wop Boys” begins at 7:30 p.m. weeknights and at 2 p.m for matinee shows. Tickets may be purchased by calling The Chestnut box office a913.764.2121. More information about The Chestnut, this show, and upcoming shows can be found on The Chestnut website.
Tags: Doo Wop Boys, The Chestnut, Chestnut Fine Arts Center, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Olathe