The Devil You Know - Theatre Review

A review by Suzanne Birrell.

L to R (rear) - James Patrick Stuart, Bill Watterson, Braxton Molinaro.
Front - Larry Poindexter.

Photos © 2016 Allen Corben & Suse Sternkopf

 The audience was united in bobbing their heads and smiling thru the music in a new musical now playing at the Arena Stages. The Devil You Know is a rhythm & blues story about love won and lost, the right band but the wrong time, an insecure genius and the people who believe in him. No sex, drugs, and alcohol- just good fun and great music (all right- maybe a bit of PG for language).

L to R (rear) - Trevon Davis, Niles Rivers, Harrison Killian-White (The Jubilee Singers)

L to R (front) - Julia Harriman, Sasha Sloan. 

The story is narrated and punctuated in doo wah form by the very talented Jubilee Trio. Harrison Killian-White has got the moves along with Trevon Davis and Niles Rivers (who doubles on guitar as needed). Sasha Sloan more than delivers the goods as the lead singer going so far to start one song belting out of the box a-caplla. Alexis Krause has  a great time playing Denise -the other woman and label manager.
Gildart Jackson (Below) has an absolutely fun time performing as Handsome the one hit wonder. He was all over the theatre and played rock star to the hilt. (And I really liked the red socks.) The members of the band had to act and play their instruments, which - since it is my contention that most players reflect a personality- was perfectly performed. Bravo to Bill Watterson as Preston on electric Bass, James Patrick Stuart as Mac on Drums (born in Hollywood-can you believe it?) and Braxton Molinaro as Richie on Keys (who allegedly had a business degree and explains all in the last scenes). Braxton did double duty in his hysterical performance of a Karaoke song along with Julia Harriman as Bree. Kudos to Larry Poindexter who plays Bobby and who wrote the music and lyrics. The music had a great variety in style and texture from full rocking band to ballad with solo acoustic guitar.

Congratulations to David Carey Foster who along with Larry Poindexter wrote the book and director Darin Anthony and music Director Brad Ellis for putting together a smooth running show. Scenic Designer David Offner added some nice touches with his use of road cases. The ease at which the set moved between scenes was masterful. Wonderful use of a sound designer Joseph "Sloe" Slawinski. Not every production uses one and the sound was wonderful- not too loud but every word could be heard and understood.

I really liked this show-can you tell? I am a bass player/ singer so maybe I do have some prejudice in the matter. But good music is good music and The Devil You Know features good music. However, I must admit to having been put off by the title: The Devil You Know. Once you see the show the title does make perfect sense, but initially I wasn't in the mood for another show about the corruption of the music industry - which it most definitely is not. The Devil You Know is lots of fun! A short run- check it out at the Arena Theatre thru October 23, 2016.






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Posted By Suzanne Birrell on October 11, 2016 02:58 pm | Permalink