REVIEW – Up until the Rent generation began to take over the world, musicals brought corny music and jazz hands to mind. They certainly were not “cool” and most people did not want to admit that they were fans.
Thanks to the popularity of Rent, a new genre known as the rock opera came to life and created many new fans.
But where do Rent fans go from here? Hopefully to The Red Room in the Society Hill Playhouse to see Hung on a Blonde Ponytail: An Act of Rock. Part of the Philadelphia Live Arts-Fringe Festival, Hung on a Blonde Ponytail will enthrall Rent-heads with driving rock music and contemporary themes.
The story begins in present-day Boston during the first interview between
a music magazine reporter, played by Debra Henri, and the new pop “it-boy” Josh, played by Gregg Pica. Josh appears to be just another bubblegum pop star, but you soon find out that he, like most great musicians, suffers from a tortured soul. During the interview, they explore everything from his first performance to his collaboration with a man we only know as a singer, portrayed by Gregory G. DeCandia, to the deeper meaning behind his silence.
Pica captures the pop-star persona perfectly, calling to mind hit singer-songwriters such as Gavin DeGraw. DeCandia, with his powerful voice, accurately portrays a mysterious musician who can’t escape the trappings of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. The way the two characters play off of each other makes the situations seem almost too real to be on a stage.
I am used to large-scale musicals, so when I walked into the tiny theater and saw only a chair, a crate and a lamp onstage, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Is it possible to do a small-scale musical? Apparently it is. The small set and three actors did not detract from the compelling storyline and lyrics.
At first glance, you wonder where the actors are going to lead you. The intertwining stories were confusing at times. With all three characters entering and exiting, you sometimes forgot what chapter of the story you were approaching. By the end, however, the script tied up all of the loose ends.
Shell out the $20 (which includes a free drink), pull up a chair and get lost in the music. You won’t regret seeing the best new musical to hit the Philadelphia area.Hung on a Blonde Ponytail plays at the Society Hill Playhouse until Sept. 14.
Ann Acri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.