Much Adoobie Brothers About Nothing
Joseph Leo Bwarie, Eric Anderson, and Daren Herbert. Shakespeare? Sure!
Laist doesn't think you have anything better to do with your weekend than see a Shakespearean musical cobbled together from the music of the Doobie Brothers.
Yes, the Doobie Brothers.
The Troubadour Theatre Company, helmed by their clowning-and-commedia-steeped director Matt Walker, has perfected the foolish, boisterous aspects of Shakespearean comedy, through a judicious pairing with the best in smooth rock.
Their latest offering, at the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica now through Sept. 24, Much Adoobie Brothers About Nothing, follows on the successful and spastic heels of many past productions, including The Comedy of Aerosmith, Fleetwood Macbeth, and our personal favorite: Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates.
(Yacht Rock, anyone?)
As the audience walked into the theatre, a crew of three pirate-garbed actors poked fun at them and bounced on and off of a central trampoline. A fast-paced show, spattered with production numbers like ROCKIN' DOWN THE HIGHWAY, TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS, and CHINA GROVE (revised to be GARDEN GROVE for this OC-centric restaging) never lost the same sensation of bouncing.
Beatrice (red-haired, wry Jen Siefert) and Benedick (a very hard-working bell-bottomed Eric Anderson) bounce together, bounce apart, bounce back. And then there's more singing. And more bouncing. You can't take your eyes off it - and Nadine Ellis's smooth, rotating choreography is a natural match for the twangy Doobies music.
The cast is relentlessly exuberant, especially director Matt Walker as Don John, who goes the farthest in improvising for every single (and we do mean EVERY single) laugh. When a sidekick accidentally stabbed a wall of the theatre with a pointer, he immediately asked, "Did you just damage the theatre?" The audience went nuts.
The best number was BLACK WATER, the first-act finale, when the actors held up signs to get the audience to sing along with the famous lyrics.
I want to hear some funky Dixie-land...
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand...
The combination of the familiar music and the familiar story was incredibly comforting. It made Shakespeare seem as easy as pop music. There is something in common between a comedy in which nothing can really go wrong - because it's a comedy - and the stoned vibe of Doobie Brothers tunes.
The cleverness of the concept pretty much makes up for any shortcomings in acting or staging. Yes, sometimes the improvising goes on for too long, and sometimes particular scenes - like Beatrice and Benedict's famous "Kill Claudio" episode - suffer from their surroundings by musical numbers. We also could have done without the improv-game interruptions. But it doesn't really affect the overall experience.
The Troubies have something authentic in their style. When a company presents Shakespeare, no matter how irreverently, and the audience leaves the theatre with their cheekbones aching from the giggles, you know they're doing something right. If that quality comes at the expense of certain levels of nuance, who cares? Where else are you going to get this kind of Fooling, jesting, and clowning with the Bard? For that matter, with the Doobies?
Much Adoobie Brothers About Nothing plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm through Sept. 24, at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, 1130 Lincoln Blvd. Tickets are $25 and available online or by calling 310-979-7196
We wanted to take this opportunity to plug the show that our friend, a long-time Troubie fan, has been dying to get them to do: U2 Gentlemen of Verona.