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IU And The BPP Lift A Glass To New Orleans


Toast at the Bloomington Playwrights Project is Sam Carner and Derek Gregor's musical based on Rex Rose's paean to the variety of street types in shabby club in post Katrina New Orleans.

There's the cross dressing femme fatale, the philandering club owner, the doomed artist, the burned out Viet Nam  vet, the girl from somewhere else who should go back there, the charming remains of a throwback to the 60s, a heavy drug supplier and a death metal singer. It's quite an entertaining singing and dancing menagerie.

Sam Carner has supplied the book and plenty of lyrics for Toast. They'remost effective in some rap based pieces. The words are supported by music with a bit of country, a little Cajun and a lot of rock and roll from Derek Gregor. Many of the songs are catchy and driving, a few are simply place holders that one has to put up with. The two collaborated on Island Song for a BPP/IU collaboration in 2014

Chicago and New York veteran Emily Maltby is the director and choreographer.  She's blessed with a strong singing and dancing cast. Most are from the IU Department of Theatre and Drama and Contemporary Dance's Musical Theatre program.  The story line for Toast has the heroine Tania back in town to get a tattoo finished. Maltby keeps the story line flowing through the energetic and varied dance sequences.

Lily Talevski is the spunky Tania. Andrew Minkin is appealing as the doomed tattoo artist, Snake. Chad Singer handles the difficult part of an English grad student enthralled with Tania. David Brumfield is riveting as the cross dressing Kay. When Brumfield is singing or flirting all eyes are on her. Jacob Barber is charming as the building inspector caught in Kay's snare.

Chad Singer sings and dances well as the club owner with a roving eye. Athena Kopulous is nicely pathetic as one over whom his eyes roved. Julia Thorn has some moving scenes as the burned out vet, doghouse. Colin LeMoine is a charmer as the local variety drug pusher, Pants. Kiko Laureano has a nice bit as the bossy leader of a trio of hospital workers.

Toast this year's BPP/IU Collaborative Musical plays through February 13th. Most nights are sold out and there are plans to add at least one evening to the run.

At the theatre for you, I'm George Walker.

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