by Jamil Khourny
Directed by Steve Scott
Choreography by Brenda Didier
Music Direction by Ryan Brewster
Produced by Silk Road Rising
At Pierce Hall at the Historic Chicago Temple, Chicago
Musical pastiche tries to cover too much as it implodes over it’s own weight
After the success of their first cabaret production in 2009, Broadway Sings the Silk Road, Jamil Khoury has mounted a most ambitious world premiere cabaret show. Moving beyond show tunes, Re-Spiced is a 95 minute cabaret show that tries to cover too much. With 35 songs ranging from Broadway to pop, country, rap, folk and rock including Bollywood also including 11 prose excerpts and 6 poetic verses, this one-act show runs too long. It was like a dinner guest who stays 30 minutes too long after being a welcome guest. Too many topics, too many songs with too many prose and poetry spoils the show.
The eight person cast ranged from adequate to weak voices and the stylish choreography (by Brenda Dider) seemed a tad under rehearsed. While I enjoyed some of the songs and parts of the poetry and prose, tunes like “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” among others didn’t seem to fit in. Adding a political, anti-war agenda and a gay theme added to the lack of focus of the show. It played like Jamil Khoury had a check list of themes he just had to cover. The show would work better with a more limited focus.
Stronger voices with a clearer focus which may have exuded more empathy and charm like the first Silk Road Cabaret show did would make this revue more stage worthy. As it plays now, there is enough quality tunes to give an honest portrait of Asian and Middle Eastern psyche as part of the unique melting pot know as the USA. Once this revue is trimmed and refocused, it’ll be even more stinging as a playful, sexy and subversive musical pastiche. It is worth a look.
At the Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St., Chicago,IL, call 312-857-1234, www.silkroadrising.org, tickets $30, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 4 pm, running time is 95 minutes without intermission, through April 28, 2012