Chicago Theater Review: GOBSMACKED! (Broadway in Chicago at the Broadway Playhouse)

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by Lawrence Bommer on December 6, 2017

in Uncategorized


Now in a very brief visit to Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse, Gobsmacked! is a good title for a show that slaps sounds out of seven performers’ fertile heads. It hits an audience too for almost two hours of fervent imitation.

This touring U.K. troupe mimic every percussive instrument imaginable. They’re a lot like Australia’s Stomp! without the improvised banging and crashing implements.

On constant display is the rapid-fire, mega-mix beatboxing phenom, sound effects so real it’s hard to believe they’re a cappella. Like the high school choristers in Glee, seven skilled bipedal mocking birds — world champion Ball-Zee (the versatile “conductor”), Nicholas-Hayes, Marcus Collins, Ed Scott, Emilie Louise Israel, Joanne Evans, and Monica Silk-Holm — indulge in uncredited, bounce-busy renditions of standards by Seal, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, The Killers, Duffy, James Brown, and the Beatles. (Comparatively pure, their encore of “Hey Jude” marinates in harmonies the Fab Four might have envied.)

Like Foley effects in old-time radio or the playful hijinks of the Blue Man Group, the musical shenanigans in Gobsmacked! are entertainment enough. Combine with them the sensuous swaying and contagious choreography created by originators Nic Doodson and music director Jack Blume and you’ve got new-fashioned pizzazz and moxie.

Maybe a little of this acquired taste goes a long way over two acts, however amazing the sound effects and the creative camouflage produced by these supple and often awesome impersonators. Personable to a fault, these devotees to the joy of unreal and very accurate noise and radical rhythms have taken their art as far as anyone could want them to go.

photos courtesy of Broadway in Chicago

presented by Broadway in Chicago
Broadway Playhouse
Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut
ends on December 10, 2017
for tickets, call 800.775.2000 or visit Broadway In Chicago

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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