Sunday, May 22, 2022

Fringe Review: You Want it What Way? is An Entertaining Trip Down Memory Lane

Who: Frosted Tips Productions
What: You Want it What Way? A Boy Band Tale
Where: The Westdale Cinema (1014 King Street West)
When: July 18-28, various dates & times (as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival

You Want It What Way? A Boy Band Tale bills itself as a “sketch comedy dance show celebrating boy bands for what they have meant to/inflicted upon our society.” The show features four enthusiastic, energetic men showcasing their love for boy bands, with a powerhouse team behind them to make the production move seamlessly. As a result, the hour-long show flies by quickly, even for those (like myself) who was never a fan of the boy-band era of the late 1990s/early 2000s.

It’s clear from the very start that You Want It What Way is a full production, similar to any boy band (or large scale) concert. From the moment the audience walks in, the atmosphere is set with background music featuring (the obvious choice of) boy bands, generally from the early 2000s.  The show includes numerous costume changes, intricate lighting designs, choreographed dances, and moments that thoughtfully incorporate the audience, much like any big-production concert.

The production has been well researched and organized, and it shows. Comedy sketches contain obscure (but accurate) facts about specific boy bands or boy-band members and musical interludes have been carefully edited to only focus on hit songs that will be clear audience favourites. The audience in the show I attended reacted accordingly- there were a lot of women screaming, and frequent sing-alongs.

Although it promises a mix of sketch comedy and dance, You Want It What Way is much more dance than sketch. Choreographer Adam Martino treated the ensemble as a boy band and created routines and choreography that the troupe impressively masters. It is both hilarious and entertaining to watch familiar moves from music videos paired with modern interpretations and enacted live on stage. However, the skill and talent required to accomplish this cannot be understated enough- the amount of choreography that each performer executes in this show is critical to its success, and they excel at it. Through this music and dance, the troupe travels through popular boy bands dating back to the Beatles to more recent hits. The sketch comedy is reduced to a few scenes between song medleys, which is a shame, as the sketches performed were well-conceived and executed; it would have been great to see a better balance of the two.

Although there is much dancing, there is very little singing. The majority of the dance medleys involve the troupe lip-syncing to popular artists. However, there was a brief interlude where the audience was serenaded by live singing. Although it took a few bars for one member to settle into his notes, once there, the entire group excelled in their vocal performance- a well-arranged interpretation of the Beatles’ Let It Be, Hanson’s MmmBop, and One Direction’s Little Things. This was so well-executed, that if a large amount of dancing is to be kept in the show, then more vocal elements should be included as well.

Not quite a dance show, not quite a comedy show, You Want It What Way? A Boy Band Tale is entirely entertaining. Its cast is enthusiastic and dedicated to boy bands of past and present and sharing their love with eager audience members. Like any big-production concert, You Want it What Way is a well-rehearsed and well-executed performance that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, but ultimately leaves us wanting more.

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