In the past, audiences at the Barn Theatre near Augusta could stop by the Rehearsal Shed after a show for food, drinks, and cabaret-style entertainment at the Bar Show. This summer things are a little different. WMUK’s Gordon Bolar reviews this year’s Bar Show.
With no mainstage season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Barn Theatre is offering the Bar Show as its evening or matinee entertainment. The show recently moved outside to comply with restrictions on audience size.
The Bar Show’s formula for success is to render lively performances of Broadway show tunes, new and old, along with some rock, pop, and Americana standards. Most important, each of the songs combines intriguing stories with memorable characters and some engaging theatrical elements. When you think about it, that’s really what the Barn does best.
For instance, The Bar Show’s opening number, “The Temp and the Receptionist,” features two young office workers who discover a mutual attraction as they labor beside one another. After opening chitchat, Aaron Czarnecki and Cosette Smith progress beyond the bounds of what Human Resources would normally allow.
Small talk soon gives way to workplace innuendos, like I could “fax you all night”. The song concludes as the pair declares their adoration for one another. In a cleverly choregraphed embrace on their knees, the two transform their office environment into a “cubicle of love”.
Czarnecki also shines in “Birds,” from the musical “Ultimate Storytime.” He’s a gifted performer who can create a bond with his audience by quietly inviting them to join him in a private world filled with his feathered friends.
Cosette’s Smith’s “The Girl in 14G” is a series of musings on neighbors who intrude into her peace and privacy. Smith displays both vocal range and flexibility. She mimics and outdoes both the piercing operatic soprano and the sultry scat-singer she hears through her apartment walls.
Lexi Pinatta draws us in with her delivery of the tongue-twisting rapid-fire lyrics to “Watch What Happens” from “Newsies.” She creates rapport with her audience, and through the intensity of her pater, she lets us know what’s at stake in her job as a newspaper reporter. Pinatta also displays versatility as she pulls off a softer delivery and arrangement of the Kansas rock standard “Carry on, My Wayward Son”.
Other standout numbers include “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from “Kiss Me Kate,” as two strong-arm gangsters share their version of highbrow culture in this welcome comic duet.
Also featured are “Therapy” from the musical “Tick, Tick… BOOM,” “Right Hand Man” from “Something Rotten!,” and “I See the Light,” from Disney’s “Tangled.”
Aaron Czarnecki returns to conclude the show with “What You Own,” from “Rent,” a rousing homage to creation and the friendships made during the gritty struggle of life in America.
I reviewed the Bar Show described here in its last performance on Sunday, August 9th. A new Bar Show premiered on Tuesday, August 11th, and is expected to run Tuesday through Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons through the second weekend in September.
The friendly staff that waits on the outdoor audience under the canopies, also performs in the show. At a time when live theatre is difficult to find, the outdoor Bar Show at the Barn Theatre fills the bill for theatre-related musical entertainment with depth and flair.