First Impression review: The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go! at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.
Critic: Kyle Turner
Play at a Glance: What do you get when you mix a little bit of 60s surf icons Frankie and Annette, a dash of the wacky mystery-solving team led by Scooby Doo, and a pinch of Gilligan’s Island? A pretty nifty afternoon at the theatre, I’d say. The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go! spins a fun, upbeat web of song, dance and carefree beach antics as a group of young Hawaiian surfers and their girlfriends’ plans for an end of summer beach party is met with opposition from the leather-clad ‘tough-guy’, The Big Tuna, and his sidekick, Mini Minnow.
First Impressions: Freddie Babbleon, played by Thomas Duplessie and Jeannette Bowlajello performed by Sarah Kuzio were a lively duo mingling with a cast of cheerful and often absent-minded young adults in the throes of youthful innocence and humourous naiveté. Strong performances were also given by Nick Nasrallah as the lovable and audaciously eccentric Slim Melvin and his summer crush, the Widget, played by Amelia Sirianni.
Highlights: The Von Drats musical accompaniment and the cheerful dance numbers accentuated the bubbly atmosphere at the festival matinee performance. The colourful costuming reminiscent of the 1960s surfer culture and an era redolent of youthful bliss on a white, sandy beach captures and exploits the very visually-engaging aspects of the dance numbers and, of course, finds humour in a bygone era’s obsession with those characters who lived, perpetually, under the sun. The performances were strong and engaging – definitely a warm welcome on this cold Toronto afternoon.
Nitpicks: For those of us in the front row, the songs and visual aspects were clearly audible and visible, but for some further back, the fast-paced nature of the party-themed music seemed a bit strained and unavoidably incoherent. The professor’s role, played by Stan MacDonald, also seemed to be superfluous, and although the part was strongly acted, seemed to be an aside that the main plot could do without.
Audience’s Instant Reaction: All in all, the production received a healthy applause, if not for the glimmer of summer it presented on this cold January day, then for the cheerful collection of song, dance and fun for audiences of all ages.
Critics Review: 3/4
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.