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"Pump Up the Volume" is worth seeing

 

Last updated 8/23/2017 at Noon

San Diego Musical Theatre presents Pump Up the Volume at Horton Grand Theatre with Leonard Patton (Biz), Edred Utomi (Willie), Janaya Jones (Dee), Cassie B (Alicia), Brielle Batino (Lanny), James Royce Edwards (Rico) and Joshua David Cavanaugh (Mark). Ken Jacques photo

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal

Special to the Village News

The voice of a generation has passed since MC Hammer shocked us with his sound. Surly and sporting his “Hammer Pants” he introduced us to a new way of dancing and a noise he called hip-hop. Most of us didn’t wanna go there. Somehow it just seemed dirty.

"Pump Up the Volume" is playing at the Horton Grand Theatre. It is the latest musical presented by San Diego Musical Theatre. From the beginning of the advance publicity introducing this production, I was hesitant even to attend. Thinking what is this?

Even up through the opening number, I hated seeing this production! I was prepared to roll my eyes and make that gagging motion in disgust. I felt sorry for myself that I had to endure this pain-inducing 2 hour performance by people who were not even born then. I began to think about where to go for dinner and begrudgingly settled back.

And then something happened at the close of the opening number, which by the way, I hated. Or I think I hated it. Well, at the time, I hated it.

There was an ear splitting quirky sound. The lights flickered. Followed by an irritating metallic scratch ratcheting through the air. “Now what? Gawd, I will have to wait to get the mechanicals fixed”. Some days I hate what I do. I don’t want to say mean things…but just you wait, I am gonna hate, hate, hate this show.

And then, suddenly, the cast lost their cell phones, changed their clothes, the music switched and I was rocketed back to a happy time when music just felt right. It wasn’t my generation’s sound, though by golly, it stands the test of time. It became a soothing, happy time! Who knew "Can’t Touch This" would feel nostalgic?

Every wonderful tune throughout the 1990’s sent my heart soaring. The Backstreet Boys, ahhh. Madonna in her prime; Lenny Kravits, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Britney Spears and even Will Smith doing "Men In Black".

Wow! What a fun show. Before I realized what was happening I was bouncing in my chair, cheering through my hands, clapping, pounding out the beat overcome

with a surreal sense of joy!

That is it. This show is joyful. The energy is boundless and it is performed with such delight by a group of youngsters who will brighten your heart. They are electric.

Every artist’s voice is pure. Their dancing is spectacular, often air borne and thoroughly invigorating. I cannot single out any one performer since each of them is spectacular. They are: Brielle Batino (Lanny), Cassie B (Alicia), Joshua David Cavanaugh (Mark), James Royce Edwards (Rico), Janaya Mahealani Jones (Dee), Leonard Patton (Biz) and Edred Utomi (Willie).

This remarkably surprising production was created by Jon Lorenz and Collen Kollar Smith. Lorenz is the musical arranger and Smith the director/choreographer. A home run for this dynamic duo.

Putting this inspired production together is a team of real pros like Michael McKeon as the scenic designer, Christina Martin designed the lighting, Kevin Anthinell worked out the sound design, and Janet Pitcher was spot-on (again) for costumes. Peter Herman managed the hair design.

Bottom line, I had to eat my words and in this case, thoughts, too. "Pump Up the Volume" is worth seeing. It is worth the trouble and the effort to get yourself down to the Horton Grand Theater at 444 4th Street. It will knock you out of you seat. I promise.

Playing until Sept. 10, 2017, Thursday 7:30 p.m., Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4 and 8 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. Box Office: (858) 560-5740 www.sdmt.org.

 

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