See ‘Chix 6’ in Queens before Broadway fanfare

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“Now this is theater,” the reviewer thought minutes into Lourds Lane’s thrilling, loud, vibrant, over-long, over-the-top spectacular “Chix 6,” now at Queens Theater, the theater formerly known as Queens Theater in the Park. Put on by a crew — if not quite a cast — of hundreds bursting with talent, the theatergoer gets the feeling that “Chix 6” is something Broadway is a little scared of right now, mostly because of the expense of putting on such an extravaganza, but mostly because of sheer timidity. If there’s one thing this new show doesn’t suffer from, it’s timidity.

Still, the plot is fairly simple. Katie White is a graphic artist, the creator of the popular character Lightning Girl and a series of bodacious female superheroines (is that a redundancy?). Katie’s boyfriend Jay is an aspiring rock star and, in the way of so many women artists, she’s decided to subordinate her career to his. Jay, like so many charming narcissists, isn’t worth her time and, of course, dumps her when she doesn’t dedicate as much time to him as he thinks she should. At that point, Katie’s five superheroines come to life and give her the much-needed backbone to not only stand up to Jay, but to go to her destiny as an artist.

That’s the bare bones of the plot, anyway.

The performances are mind-blowing. None of the actors hold anything back and the reviewer had to wonder how they keep this up night after night; the performance I saw was nearly three-hours long. Even the nice chap who drives Queens Theater audience members to and from the 7 train every day was exhausted.

The book, music and lyrics were all written by Lane, who in a rare generosity of spirit is not the lead character. Her songs come fast and furious, often accompanied by bursts of sherbet-colored lights, strobe lights, fog, lightning and other gobsmacking special effects. Lane does appear in the cast, however, as Rise, a little girl in a sort of schoolgirl’s uniform and a crazy red wig who’s a demon on the electric violin. There’s also Danielle Lee Greaves as the wildly confident and adventurous Mama-Mazing (“Most Gorgeous Creature” is the song she sings to herself); Celine Carvajal as Blaze, who may be a touch more incendiary than the others; and Molly Tynes as Lola Touché, a French or English chanteuse (Katie hadn’t made up her mind when she came to life, you see) who does amazing, acrobatic stuff in mid-air.

Nicolette Hart is the hilarious Seven, a flamboyant creature with candy apple red magic glasses and hair that looks like a cone of bubble gum ice cream with a swirl of vanilla. Ellenore Scott’s agile Lightning Girl, Katie’s alter ego, has no lines in the play and is always bested by her adversary, CJ Tyson’s Mi Roar — until she’s not. Brian Gallagher, as Jay, makes his character attractive enough to keep the audience from hating his guts, despite Katie’s deliciously blunt song “I Hate Your Guts,” and Josh Sassanella is funny as a reporter who interviews him. Then there’s Katie (the amazing Carrie Manolakos), a sweet-faced, accommodating girl who can belt out a song when she has to. Her rendition of “To My Angels” and “What Are You Doing Right Now?” are killers. But then again, all of those flamboyant, dauntless, take-no-prisoners superheroines are aspects of Katie, after all.

The supporting crew has obviously been given a free hand to do what they will and it shows. First there’s DJ Salisbury, the play’s visionary and go-for-broke director. He’s joined by set designer Beowulf Boritt, whose set is all industrial catwalks and platforms where musicians play and some of the action takes place, to be cleverly projected on an on-stage screen. Video/projection designer David Gallo deserves praise for that. Overall choreography was done by Ron De Jesus and Wendy Bobbitt Cavett contributed the spectacular musical arrangements.

When the reviewer spoke to Salisbury earlier, he suggested that Queens theaters could be the new places where Broadway bound shows try out. So far that seems promising, at least for a show like “Chix 6,” which though it’s about 40 minutes too long and needs some pruning, got the audience roaring and on their feet at the end. Run, don’t walk, to see “Chix 6” before it gets to Broadway. You’ll tell your grandchildren you were the first to see a musical that’s bound to become a standard.

The perfomance at Queens Theater in Flushing Meadows Corona Park will run through Oct. 30.

See the TimesLedger Theater Calendar for showtimes.

Posted 12:00 am, October 21, 2011
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Reader feedback

Mary Bruce Batte from Alexandria VA says:
I am crazy about this show! The cast is strong and great! I can't wait to see it on Broadway!
You forgot to mention that Molly Tynes is singing while hanging from the silks and the
lira. Amazing!
Oct. 25, 2011, 9:55 am

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