‘SPIDERMUSICAL: A Second Chance for Awesome’ at Landless Theatre Company by Amanda Gunther


Look up in the sky! Slinging through the trees! It’s a bird – it’s a plane – it’s – a nerdy teenage boy in a comical musical farce? Yes! Our Spidey senses are tingling! You read it here first –SPIDERMUSICAL: A Second Chance for Awesome has been spotted (just look here – Spider One Spotted in downtown DC ) playing nightly from Thursday through Sunday at Landless Theatre Company. It’s got pizzazz! It’s got music! It’s got a laugh-a-minute book by Randy Blair and Tim Drucker and a fun score by Matthew Roi Berger with lyrics by Mr. Blair, that audiences everywhere will love! This is the must-see rollicking musical comedy of the season!

The cast of SPIDERMAN: A Second Chance for Awesome. Photo by Amanda Williams Photography.

Directed by Melissa Baughman, this Second Chance for Awesome is exactly that. If you’ve missed all of the crazy stuff they’ve done so far this season – this is your second and final chance, as it’s the last show this season at Landless, to hear the awesome talent, see the amazing feats, and enjoy a night out at the theatre. Baughman brings a talented cast of actors to this production giving you all the excitement of a musical, the action of a comic book and all the hilarity of a spoof. It’s a great mockup of Spiderman – all the recognizable characters are there: Spider One, Mary Joan, the mad scientist and his obnoxious spoiled rich son. Add in some fighting, hilarious solo numbers and ridiculous plot twists – and you’ve got one hell of a show.

It is more than apparent that the cast is thoroughly enjoying themselves judging by the high-energy and upbeat pacing of the show. The ensemble is extremely powerful when they take to the stage in numbers like “Ready For A Hero” and “Spider  One.” They dance around the stage with choreography provided by Andrew Lloyd Baughman, simple but unified and perfectly synchronized moves that keep them looking like one powerful city unit – joyous over the arrival of the chosen hero. Many of the ensemble doubles up in alternating roles providing a much larger looking crowd than there actually is – but this only adds to the hilarity of the show.

Mickey D. DaGuiso as Spider One. Photo by Amanda Williams Photography.

We meet Peter Partker (Mickey D. DaGuiso), who is the epitome of a nerdy loser teen living in Astoria, who has a serious closet crush on his best friend, and a totally unspoken rivalry with the richest kid in his high school class. DaGuiso has the soft spoken sound of a nervous kid who knows he’s not popular, as evidenced in his solo “I Know I’d Be A Hero.” He showcases a great anxious awkward energy when interacting with his BFF Mary Joan (Melissa O’Brien), desperate to hide his true feelings for her while still trying to remain cool on the surface. His huge vocal explosion comes during his panicky number “Am I Dying?” after being bitten at Dr. Cosborne’s lab. DaGuiso is every bit the bumbling super hero you’d expect a young teen of his background to be – and creates a thoroughly convincing and enjoyable role when he becomes Spider One.

Playing opposite DaGuiso is O’Brien in the role of ‘slutty with a heart of gold Mary Joan – conveniently shortened to ‘M-Jo.’ She exudes ditzy sexuality as she throws herself at Colin Cosborne (Matt Baughman) but reserves her quirky little flirts for DaGuiso when she talks to him without realizing who he really is. O’Brien has two great solo songs that really showcase her vocal range, the first being “Friend Zone” where she gets to show off her belting ability as she serenades the audience with a comical ballad of how Peter Partker will always be safe in the ‘friend zone.’ The second song – “No More Mrs. Nice Guy” – comes during her transformation where O’Brien kicks up her attitude to a sexy, snazzy level and becomes ‘Mrs. Bad Guy.’ There are some risqué dance moves with high-flying “hi-ya” style kicks in time with groovy snare drum taps that really seal the deal on this number.

The iconic comic book style violence is evidenced throughout the production with fights between the main super heroes and of course the super villains. Fight Choreographer Steve Custer really makes his efforts known as these flawless punches fly and the characters receiving them take several spins around the stage before falling. These fight scenes have the perfect balance between hokey and action-packed, making the show much more entertaining – especially the fights between Spider One (DaGuiso) and Dr. Bloodlust (Andrew Lloyd Baughman.) These two actors really take the punches to one another, complete with projected sound effects printed on the large spider web backdrop of the stage.

The Clowns are gone. Uncle Amos (Patrick M. Doneghy), Nana June (Arielle Goodman) and Peter Partker (Mickey D. DaGuiso). Photo by Amanda Williams Photography.

And what would a comic book musical be without super villains? Like all evil doers the two in this show just start off as a rich scientific father and son Colin (Matthew Baughman) and Dr. Rick Oz-Cosborne (Andrew Lloyd Baughman.) Baughman as Colin embodies a complete douchebag character, being rude and unnecessarily cruel to Peter Partker, and capturing that evil laugh with  chilling effect. Andrew Baughman has a fantastically strong voice, demonstrated in “In My Genes” and again in the number “Bloodlust,” where he bellows his triumphant plan to destroy Spider  One and take over the world. Together Baughman and Baughman make the perfect diabolical duo for evil doing in this hysterical campy show.

And keep your ears out for the hysterical ballad “The Clowns Are Gone” – a solo number from Nana June (Arielle Goodman) which is a deep mournful song pouring from her soul, but the lyrics are so ridiculous that you won’t be able to stop laughing. And the more serious she becomes about the song the more hysterical it becomes. This solo is only matched by the utter ridiculous “If It Leads, It Bleeds Reprise” performed by Jamie Sorrentino (Ally Jenkins) the head of Gawker Web, the place where Partker interns. Jenkins gets cast in the over-the-top role of ‘annoying bordering on sexually harassing’ – and she executes this role with excellence. Jenkins provides the best comic relief in this already hilarious show, and is not to be missed as she exudes such a raunchy and hilarious nature to her character.

So don’t look up in the sky for a signal – this is your invitation! Swing on down to Landless Theatre Company’s production of SPIDERMUSICAL: A Second Chance for Awesome before it gets radioactive and explodes out of town.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.

SPIDERMUSICAL: A Second Chance for Awesome plays through April 29, 2012 at Landless Theatre Company at District of Columbia Arts Center (‘DCAC’) – 2438 18th Street NW, in Washington DC. For tickets, purchase them online.

 

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