Review: ‘Booty Candy’ at Montgomery College

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In a particularly lapel-grabbing scene in Montgomery College’s Booty Candy, a preacher tells his congregation that he’s tired of hiding from the “what they heard” crowd and shows them who he really is—in dramatic fashion. A dark satire, sardonically provocative, with absurdity at its core, Booty Candy was brought to an explosive realness by a made-to-measure cast and director David Rothman.

A series of sketches featuring mature language, sexual themes and self-referencing meta-theatrics, Booty Candy, written by Robert O’Hara, is Lenny Bruce meets Harvey Fierstein—with a touch of Michael Jackson. Semi-autobiographical, it follows Sutter, a gay black man though various stages of life.

In Rothman’s staging, the revolving stage, complete with three walls, was one of the stars of the show, thanks to Master Carpenter Richard Robinson and Scenic Artist Pallas Bane. The perfectly-fitted cast includes Damon Lue-Maxwell, who brought a tender naivete to the young Sutter and a world-weariness to the older version of the character. He was fabulous in “Drinks and Desire,” which revealed a lot about Sutter’s sketchy love life, and “Happy Meal” in which his mom encouraged the effeminate, teenaged Sutter to stop performing in musicals and listening to Culture Club. Antonio King was a plum-pleasing pleasure to watch as Reverend Benson in the scene “Dreamin’ in Church”, as Sutter’s Step Father in “Happy Meal”, and Granny in “iPhone”. He was so good, King is officially under indictment for “show stealing”.

Also superb was Albertha Joseph (most recently seen in Marisol at Montgomery College’s Rockville, Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center), who played Sutter’s mom with comical aplomb in the titular scene “Booty Candy”, wherein young Sutter asks many birds-and-the-bees type questions. Tyler Everett Adams was effectively the proverbial actor with a thousand faces; he played everything from a hapless moderator of a panel of Black playwrights, a would-be mugging victim, and a hippie officiant of a lesbian wedding. Amber Smithers (who was most recently in The Wiz at Academy of the Holy Cross) brought pathos to her inappropriately named character in the scene “Ceremony.” Even the cast’s curtain call stood out, thanks to Joseph’s turn as Dance Captain.

I loved Christopher Campanella’s Lighting Design, which included disco lights and a simulated switch to the screen of an Apple iPhone.  David Crandall’s sound design kept the Michael Jackson motif going. Ellen Mansueto excelled at finding a red-and-black, Michael Jackson “Beat It” jacket for Lue-Maxwell. She also provided many costumes for Adams to quick-change into. Though the revolving stage was fun to watch and effective for the staging, a black curtain may have been used to hide the stage hands who operated it.  Thanks to its talented cast, Booty Candy, fit only for mature audiences, is raw sketch dramedy at its best.

Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.

Booty Candy plays through March 12, 2017, at the Cultural Arts Center of Montgomery College – 7995 Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.

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