Theater review: Shadowbox Live’s “Hot and Heavy” full of seductive laughs, double meanings and thrilling vocals – Entertainment & Life – The Columbus Dispatch

“Hot and Heavy” is mostly light and funny.

Shadowbox Live’s new comedy and rock show, which opened Thursday in its Brewery District space, features sassy summer fare.

The title’s reference to heat does not primarily refer to time but to the double meanings and communication issues that can arise when it comes to sex.

Lively and energetic but also well-polished by director Julie Klein, the two-hour two-act show is recommended for mature audiences due to profanity and frequent sexual references, both blunt and indirect.

The opening skit, “Snap to It”, is built on a solid foundation of a universal constant in families: the deep embarrassment that teenagers of a certain age feel at the simple reminder that their parents are sexual beings.

Katy Psenicka and Jimmy Mak have fun playing the parents of John Boyd’s oddly anxious Max, who recoils from their increasingly explicit romantic and sexual advice.

When parents graphically talk about their own relationship as a way to encourage their son to feel more free to pursue his objects of affection, Max squirms more and more awkwardly and begs to stop causing frequent laughs.

While one can quickly tell where most of the other sketches are going, that doesn’t necessarily reduce their surprises, successful punchlines, or (be warned) their puns.

In “Spazoids – Role Playing”, Jimmy Mak, JT Walker III and Brandon Anderson milk the youthful innocence of their childish characters during an online conversation with a stranger they believe to be another youngster eager to play games. .

This is another familiar variation of Shadowbox sketches allowing adult males to revert to their pre-teen nerdness, but just enough plausible misunderstandings develop to support the sketch.

Perhaps the smartest skit is “Sexting for a Spell,” a skillful multimedia combination of video and live performances. As Walker texts a young woman in a long flirtatious conversation, their words appear on the big screen, often misspelled or reflecting bad grammar that ultimately undermines his desire. (It’s a relief that someone still has high standards in an age of disturbing social media and declining literacy.)

Slightly less successful due to its excess of repetition is “Competitive Sex,” about a couple (Walker and Psenicka) in therapy who still can’t resist the temptation to try to outdo each other’s demands and revelations. .

More offbeat is “Porn-pocalypse,” which imagines that X-rated adult stores will still exist in a dystopian future. Tom Cardinal’s fantasy novel language as the store’s shriveled hawker lends a surreal tone to the “Lord of the Rings” to his euphemistic interactions with weary Summit traveler J. Starr.

Brevity is the soul of the spirit – and of video skits. They’re short, sharp, build up to a solid laugh or two, then stop quietly.

Several videos feature historical vignettes that mischievously imagine how the very first phone sex might have developed, or depict a frontier-era striptease where women’s understated clothing had endless layers.

While the “50 Shades of Gray” films may be essential references in this type of thematic show, a new episode of “Shannon’s Movie Reviews” seems too predictable.

Among the strong singers, Brandon Anderson stands out in “Mississippi Queen” and “Irresistible” while Noelle Anderson lifts “Raise Hell”. She is also quite “Irresistible”.

With the help of the strong band on stage and the thrilling vocals of Justin Brent, Amy Lay, Nyla Nyamweya (especially evocative in Rhianna’s “Shut Up and Drive”), Eryn Reynolds, Starr, Adam Wesley and others, the songs Well-chosen rock alternate with the original sketches to reinforce the show’s alluring themes.

The upbeat vibe is set by a friendly 12-member ensemble who transforms the opening song. Black Eyed Pea’s “I Gotta Feeling” becomes a warm welcome for an evening that promises good entertainment.

You have to be confident to set such high expectations, but Shadowbox Live more than lives up to it.

@ mgrossberg1

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