Saturday, August 12, 2017

“Pump Up The Volume: A 90’s Palooza” Continuation of “MiXTape”.

“Pump Up The Volume: A 90’s Palooza” currently on stage at the Horton Grand Theatre downtown through Sept.10th came as culture shock to yours truly.

The good news is that my theatre date is up on all the music that could fit into what was supposed to be a two -hour, with one 15- minute intermission lasting almost two and a half hours.  Most of those in attendance didn’t really care. Yours truly…well.

When you try to squeeze a decade of music and TV and movies and hit songs, single and composites and come up with about 100 thrown into the mix, and that’s only in Act I, you know you’re in for the long haul.

(Front Row) Edred Utomi, James Royce Edwards
(L To R back) Leonard Patton, Brielle Batino, Joshua DAvid Cavanaugh, Janaya Mahealani Jones and Cassie B 
Hot of the press from the dynamic duo that brought us the long running “miXTape”, Colleen Kollar Smith and Jon Lorenz are at it again with “Pump Up The Volume, A 90’s Palooza.”  “Boomers” (created first at Lamb’s then moved to Horton Grand written by Kerry Meads and Vanda Eggington) was its successful predecessor.

You know the old saying, “If it ‘aint broken, don’t fix it.” My guess is there will be more coming out of this twosome in the future. 

Not to overuse the word but, the music and the sound and the performers are indeed pumped up!

Armed with a very capable cast of seven, four guys (Joshua David Cavanaugh, James Royce Edwards, Leonard Patton and Edred Utomi, “I Want it That Way”) and three gals, (Brielle Batino, Cassie B, Janaya Mahealani Jones), the show moves along at pretty rapid speed considering that many of the costume changes had to have been helped along by costume magicians. Credit Janet Pitcher for the costume design; no credit given to the elves that helped out.   

Cast of Pump Up The Volume
In the opening segment the seven leave the 20’s behind when their cell phones stop dead in their tracks and they are forced to go back to the 90’s, sans cell phones, and all the other electronic devices that we all now so depend on. 

There is a story there but it’s sketchy and that’s OK because it’s the music and the era of social media that this ‘Palooza’ is all about.

The youthful cast sing dance and bring those not of the lost generation of the 40’s, 50’s and maybe 60’s big band era, on a nostalgia trip just before cell phones, iPads and digital paraphernalia.

And its about the 90’s and the GenX or x-gen, you name it: “Friends” and Pokémon, and The Simpsons, “Titanic”, “Seinfeld”, and Lenny Kravitz, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears (why not), U2, Ricky Martin, Shania Twain’s “Man I Feel Like a Woman” (Batino), Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” with Janaya Mahealani Jones sounding exactly like the mega star herself that even I recognized that one. She deserves kudos for that one performance in particular. And the beat went on.
Brielle Batino, Janaya Mahealani Jones and Cassie B
Janet Jackson, Pearl Jam, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Mariah Cary and and and and, and it’s a generation yours truly either slept thru or was space traveling. Color it leaning toward the under 40’s population.

Either way, my friend or rather interpreter helped identify along the way, so if I am a bit sketchy about the time frames and the music, bear with me. 
Top banana Edred Utomi
What I can say with some certainty is that what I saw and what I heard was a worthy effort by a talented cast. Originators Kollar Smith who directs and choreographs with Lorenz mixing the musical arrangements managed to fill the evening with about as many musical and current (for then) tidbits as possible.

The show is under the San Diego Musical Theatre banner and boasts four musicians (2 guitars, one bass, Taylor Peckham on keys and Brian Hall on drums) with Peckham leading the band.  

( R.) Joshua David Cavanaugh, Edred Utomi, James Royce Edwards and Leonard Patton
Michael McKeon’s set is a maze of steps on almost every level painted in yellows and oranges with projections (McKeon) in the background. 

After the fact I thought I should have counted how many times the cast managed those steps, but they are young and it probably mattered not. Kevin Anthenill’s sound design is what the doctor ordered and that was loud. Christina Martin’s lighting design fits the venue.

If you missed the 90’s scene and all it had to offer and you need to get pumped up by what you missed, head on down to the Horton Grand and have a blast.

Next up on the SDMT calendar is “Billy Elliot The Musical”.

See you at the theatre.

 Dates: Through Sept. 10th
Organization: San Diego Musical Theatre
Phone: 858.560.5740
Production Type: Musical
Ticket Prices: $25.00-$60.00

Venue: Horton Grand Theatre
Photo: SDMT


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