According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fringe/Diamond Dead

Reviewed by CAIT WEISS

Ever been to a Six Flags theme park? Ever see one of those awesome, over-amped stage shows? Well, if you’re one of the few who escaped Monster Mash Bash, don’t fret. Thanks to Diamond Dead, you can still experience some high-energy, dance-happy zombie musical theater.

Diamond Dead is the story of a failed rock band that comes to life only after its members are blown to smithereens. Mix a Spinal Tap backstory with a Dawn of the Dead ending, add a dash of Rocky Horror and you’ve pretty much got the show.

It's hard to believe that a show with musical zombies could be anything but a surefire hit; unfortunately, though, there were moments when this Fringe production felt more dead than alive. To the D.C.-based, award-wining cast’s credit, this wasn’t the fault of anyone on stage, especially not the commanding Andrew Lloyd Baughman (as Dr. Diabolicus) and the delightful Josh Speerstra (as Glitter). In truth, the entire Diamond Dead band sang their moldy brain-starved hearts out. Still, even with the cast’s repeated rallying cries, the show limped along, mainly because the New York crowd was sparse and reluctant to join in the fun. Was it a cultural difference that kept us from participating? Perhaps; New Yorkers are known for being jaded, having so much theater at our doorstep. Great for us, but unfortunate for them, as Diamond Dead suffered the sad flipside of the hometown advantage.

The cast certainly tried to get the energy going: they bounded into the sparse audience – inviting, imploring, and finally forcing the few of us there to dance. But this wound up being more nerve-wracking than inspiring for some of us; we were dancing to quell the zombies. At one point, as Jack (Matt Baughman) gyrated behind our heads, the complete stranger sitting beside me leaned over and asked, “What should we do?” “Whatever they say,” I whispered, ready to bust out the Running Man as a last resort.

In the end, despite my new friends and dance moves, I left the show thinking how much more fun it would have been in a tiny packed theater in D.C.’s Adams Morgan after about three drinks with a ton of happy people wearing hot pants. And that’s not a bad thing: after all, Spinal Tap, Dawn of the Dead, Rocky Horror are like that too. And really, if you think about it, so is Monster Mash Bash.

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