Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Impression review: The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party is A-Go-Go! at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Critic: Spencer Smith

Play at a glance: Freddie, Jeanette and the gang sing and surf under the sun and try to throw a copesetic end-of-summer beach party before bearish bully Big Tuna and his loyal henchman Mini Minnow can stomp all over their sand castle.

First Impression: Allison Beula's Director's Notes frankly admit that the Beach Party movies of the 1960s - which this musical attempts to mimic - were terrible excuses to show off bikini-clad teens dancing to the latest tunes and, if that is the case, Beula hits the mark. The show delivers exactly what it sets out to: simple, skimpy, heterosexual fun. The gender stereotypes are ten-fold, but a product of the time, I suppose. With its catchy songs, kitschy dancing and corny dialogue, the aimless plot and 'shmacking' are actually refreshing because the actors so clearly do not take themselves seriously.

Highlights: Nicky Basrallah's show-stealing square, Slim Melvin, and his dedication to over-acting every minute emotion that passed through his tiny frame.

Nitpicks: Lack of perspective. The subversive possibilities were endless.

Audience Reaction: Hoots, hollers, and whistles.

Critic Reaction: Four stars

Note from Nestruck: This review was written as part of a workshop on theatre criticism and time constraints. Participants were asked to file a review within one hour of seeing a show of their choice at Toronto's Next Stage festival.

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