Review: ‘Bradley’s Bucks’ at Franky Bradley’s

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Acrobatic, athletic, comic, and erotic, Bradley’s Bucks have it all and delivered it all upstairs at Franky Bradley’s in their latest high-energy offering. Founded, led, and directed by Teddy Fatscher and Tommy Schimmel (well-known to Philadelphia audiences for their dare-devil performances as principal members of Brian Sanders’ JUNK), the all-male resident dance troupe – comprised of William Burden, Misha King, and Frank Leone, along with Fatscher and Schimmel – dazzled with their physical prowess, controlled movement, burlesque humor, and well-toned beauty.

Bradley’s Bucks.

Bradley’s Bucks.

Produced by Dave Morreale, the two-act show opened with a full-length presentation of the Bucks’ most recent creation “Playground,” followed by excerpts from a selection of past favorites in the two-year-old company’s repertoire. Employing expressive props, colorful lighting, and an assortment of acrobatic equipment and riggings, the dynamic dancers performed their inventive choreography to a soundscape of contemporary, vintage, and classical music, as they told a specific story and set a different mood with each piece.

In the featured work “Playground,” the ensemble of five embraced the old saying “boys will be boys,” as they revisited their childhood games, competitions, and confrontations. The intimate second-floor stage space was turned into the eponymous recreation area, with swings on chains and tires on ropes suspended from the ceiling beams, and a teeterboard, tetherball, and double-wide inclined sliding board on the ground. All were put to expert use, with consummate skill and playfulness; the Bucks, and those of us in the audience, were clearly having a good time. They jumped, tumbled, swung, balanced, and fought with power and agility, incorporating exhilarating segments of line dancing, breakdancing, popping, and jazz into the dance narrative. Apropos costumes (including flashing LED light-up sneakers and sunglasses) and Pop hits (excited jazz hands punctuated their choreography to “Mack the Knife”) underscored the youthful theme and dance styles.

The second act contained a stunning array of the troupe’s signature vignettes. From the disturbingly sardonic “Aerial Dance on a Corpse” to the gracefully poignant “Elasticity” to the imaginatively organic “Life Cycle of a Plant” and the bawdy climax “Ejaculation” (with phallic spray cans shooting aerosol strings), the Bucks brought their impressive flexibility, sensuality, emotion, and wit to the works, and filled Franky Bradley’s with excitement.

Co-hosts Falon Pattani and Tom Schmitt provided introductions, comic banter, and interactions with the audience between scene changes, and Franky’s First Ladies made a guest appearance in a short aerobic-exercise workout parody. If you missed this month’s one-night-only show, don’t despair; Bradley’s Bucks performs regularly at the venue, with some new and some familiar material, and a whole lot of blazing talent!

Running Time: One hour and 55 minutes, including an intermission.

Misha King and Frank Leone.

Misha King and Frank Leone.

Bradley’s Bucks played on Thursday, April 13, 2017, performing at Franky Bradley’s – 1320 Chancellor Street, Philadelphia, PA.

 

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