The No Rules Show feels more intimate like a Saturday night in Joshua Morgan’s living room than late night talk show…and that’s a good thing. He gathers together a group of interesting people, mostly friends, and talks a little, sings a little, drinks a little (or a lot), and invites the audience to join him in having a damn good time. With a mix of scripted monologues and music, and unscripted dialogue with the audience and guests, the show offers a fun what-will-happen-next vibe.
Opening with a dramatic monologue, Morgan follows with a list of rules for the No Rules evening. Of course the rules are more anti-rules (that involve alcohol, natch) than regulation. Then Morgan, host-pianist of Arena Stage’s piano bar and Theatre Washington’s Showtunes & Cocktails, moves to the piano where he does what he does best…he plays and sings. He changes up the energy of the evening with his interpretation of the melancholy Arlen/Mercer classic, “I Had Myself a True Love”. Next comes a brief game show segment with three people from the audience with a prize of $250 and a lot of laughs.
The evening’s guests were NBC4 News Anchor Barbara Harrison, standup comedian Jamel Johnson, and film and Broadway actor Tyrone Giordano. Morgan’s interviews are a bit uneven with some missed opportunities to follow what could have been possible sources for engaging stories. But Morgan’s clear interest in connecting with his guests and boyish exuberance create some fun moments.
Harrison was a good sport when she was asked to read several excerpts from Fifty Shades of Grey in her best anchor voice. Comic Johnson had some good bits in his standup but I found him best in the spontaneous Q&A and in Morgan’s game pitting Johnson against Harrison to choose the one fake headline among three. I won’t embarrass Harrison by reporting who won the contest.
Morgan then went back to the piano to sing “River in the Rain” from the Broadway musical Big River while Giordano, who played the lead in the revival Broadway and national tour productions, performed in sign language. It’s a beautiful song and the Giordano/Morgan performance was brilliant.
No Rules Theatre Company’s Joshua Morgan and Brian Sutow created the production with Sutow directing. While I might wish for a bit more music and a little less interview, the playful Morgan makes us wish we were all sitting in his living room, singing, getting to know his friends, playing games, and feeling good about life.
Running Time: 90 minutes.
The No Rules Show Hosted by Joshua Morgan With Special Guests Opens Tonight at Signature.