Emily Vergason, Jeff Mangum, James Thompson, Joy Elizabeth DeWitt, & Emily Grimany. Photo: Wayward Actor’s Company
Unhindered and Ungendered: The Sexy Sexy Show
Music and lyrics: Various artists
Directed and Choreographed by Valerie Canon
Music Direction by Doug Jones
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2019 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
It’s about to get all kinds of sexy up in here! Wayward Actor’s Company’s current installment of their Unhindered and Ungendered series is a musical revue loaded with kink, raunchiness, and fun. A hodgepodge of flirty and seductive songs, this showcase of reimagined duets, power ballads, and ensemble pieces brings pleasure, no matter what your preference.
While past Unhindered and Ungendered shows highlighted villains and love songs, this show stands apart as a strong performance with strong vocals, creative staging, and choreography. Extra kudos to Valerie Canon’s choice of opening and closing the performance with Fosse inspired choreography, arguably synonymous with sexuality. Doug Jones leads his four-piece band through the variety of genre splitting score. Whether it’s the deep pounding opening notes of “Big Spender,” Rogers and Hammerstein’s frolicking “I Caint Say No” or more contemporary numbers from Hamilton and Tick…Tick…Boom, Jones and his band provide a great support for the lacy and leather-clad ensemble.
And what an ensemble this is! What I admire about these Unhindered and Ungendered shows is they bring the best local performers together to sing some of the best tunes to hit the Great White Way. Joy Beth DeWitt is a dynamo, with a full rich belting vocal with jazzy renditions of “Jenny’s Blues” and “I Can Cook Too.” She truly shines with “Sexy” from Mean Girls, complete with mouse ears and a superficial stage presence that would match a Plastic any day. Josh O’Brien oozes cheekiness, and his ‘stache and muttonchops channel some of the greats of the 70’s adult film industry. “Green Green Dress” and “Girl, Can I Kiss You With Tongue?” are hilarious and hide no subtly of desires in the best possible ways. Herschel Zahnd is strong with Mel Brooks’ silliness in “If You’ve Got It Flaunt It” while bringing a funky realness and originality to “Say Not To This.” Emily Vergason accentuates the sweet and coy qualities of losing your virginity with “Changing My Major” while harmonizing beautifully with James Thompson in “Sugar Daddy.”
As is typical with Unhindered and Ungendered productions, songs and performers are matched regardless of gender that can change the meaning of the song, bring a new interpretation, or just breathing new life into an old standard. Sweet Charity’s “Big Spender” is the stand out number of the evening. Here the physical prowess and stamina the song demands remain the same yet the gender of the hustlers have been flipped. The desire to earn a buck, compete for attention, and release some tension is all present and its fantastic. “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” makes a bold statement about body image as James Thompson recreates the spritely number from A Chorus Line. “The Bitch of Living” remains the same yearning pop/punk song about sexual frustration as the female chorus jump and mosh while “Let Me Entertain You” sung by Michael Rediker continues to flaunt with the power of suggestion.
Walking into the theater, I was curious how sexy this Unhindered and Ungendered installment would be. While selections from The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret and “You Can Be As Loud As the Hell You Want” from Avenue Q were very obvious choices, this rowdy show has quite a few surprises as well. It’s got something for everyone, no matter what you’re into.
Featuring Taylor Clemons, Fallon Crowley, Joy Beth DeWitt, Emily Grimany, Mandy Kramer, Jeff Mangum, Brynnan McNeill, Andrew Newton, Josh O’Brien, Michael Rediker, JoAnne Sweeny, James Thompson, Emily Vergason, & Herschel Zahnd
Kevin Hines on Guitar, Derek Carpenter on Bass, & Donnie Arbuckle on Drums
Unhindered and Ungendered: The Sexy Sexy Show
October 11-12, 17-19 @ 7:30 PM
October 13 & 20 @ 5:30 PM
Wayward Actor’s Company
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Kate Barry earned her bachelor in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!