Shake Your Tailfeather

Last night, I was at the first show in one of my yearly Kimmel series: I Can’t Stop Loving You, part of the Broadway at the Academy set. I didn’t know anything about the show before I arrived.

Well, strike that. I knew that it was a show written to feature and celebrate Ray Charles’s music. When explaining my Wednesday plans to friends and co-workers, I kept saying the same thing: “It’s a jukebox musical of Ray Charles songs. How bad can it be?”

Well, my prediction was wrong, but it was wrong in the best kind of way.

One: it’s not a jukebox musical. It’s a straight up song review, which I think was a much better choice for this diverse assortment of tunes.*

Two: the experience was far and above the level of “how bad can it be?” The performances were polished and vibrant, the song selection and ordering built a great energy throughout the evening, and I had myself one of those buzzed, adrenaline-filled walks home that a night of live music can do for me.

I did have some minor complaints. The miking and sound balance didn’t really work—I recall seeing a similar complaint in the press coverage of The Lion King, which concerns me. The show iself was built around a cadre of singers and a company of dancers, but those dancers seemed really superfluous for most of the numbers.**

My final complaint is about my fellow audience members. Do none of them know how to enjoy this sort of performance? When singers with this verve and energy are invting you to clap along, how can you sit on your hands?!?

Anyhow, the show continues through Sunday, and you can still find seats in this week’s Philly Fun Guide. If you go, do me one favor:

clap along!!!

* If any non-theater geeks want to know the difference, I’ll be happy to explain.

** Notable exceptions: “Marianne” and “Shake Your Tailfeather.”

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