Gettin' the Band Back Together at the Belasco Theatre
BY JACKSON CLINE
In the opening number of Gettin’ the Band Back Together, the show’s ensemblists fill the Belasco Theatre with infectiously positive energy as they celebrate life in the Garden State. Enthusiasm and commitment are the name of the game in Broadway’s latest original musical, a show that requires its ensemblists to populate the world of Sayreville, NJ by creating many zany, often larger-than-life characters. Despite writing that leaves much to be desired, the production’s ensemblists are given ample opportunities to show off their comedic and vocal chops.
Tamika Lawrence, who doubles as an ensemblist in addition to playing Roxanne Velasco, is electric onstage. From her sassy turn as a Jersey girl in the opening number to her roof-raising vocals in “Battle of Your Life,” Tamika elevates her material with a great sense of ease. My eyes were instantly drawn to her whenever she stepped onstage.
Following a rather unfortunate rap number that features a “matzah ball” call-and-response section, Ryan Duncan cleanses the audience’s palate with a winning comedic turn as Nick Styler, a musician at the Peterpank Diner. With slick vocals and sharp comedic chops, Duncan’s onstage breakdown over an ex-lover had the audience in stitches and was a highlight of the evening.
While many of the ensemblists have significant features, J. Elaine Marcos shines with far fewer moments in the spotlight. Whether busting a move as Grouchy Grandma or revealing her edgy side as a Mouthfeel groupie, she embraces the style of the show with great commitment, wringing as much humor as she could out of characters that had very little material on the page.
Is Gettin’ the Band Back Together great theatre? No, but if you find yourself at the Belasco Theatre, you will be treated to an entertaining showcase of the multi-talented ensemblists.