“I’ll Be Damned”

Last Tuesday night, Matt and I ventured down to the Vineyard Theatre on East 15th Street to see a showcase-style production of a new musical titled, “I’ll Be Damned, ” by Rob Broadhurst and Brent Black, and produced by Jaradoa Theater.  I’ll Be Damned tells the story of what happens a socially awkward, home-schooled man-boy when he makes a pact to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for just one friend.  

While this may not be a perfect musical by any means, it wasn’t all that bad.  It could certainly benefit from a bit of re-writing and scaling down in terms of length, but because the cast was pretty stellar, it made all of that bearable for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  

This is a fantastic showcase for Jacob Hoffman, who stars as the home-schooled Louis Foster because he gains the sympathy of the audience from the start of the show and never loses it.  Other stand-outs in the cast were Kurt Robbins (as Satan), Mary Testa (as Louis’ mother), ad Kenita R. Miller (as Friendetta, the comic book character that Louis invents).  

Testa, a Broadway veteran, can command any stage she graces and this was no different.  Robbins was perfect as Satan, but when he started to have friendly-feelings towards our protagonist, he also gained points with the audience.  He can flow from one side of the stage to the other in a huge number with the ensemble and make it look effortless, and he has a powerhouse voice (he’s not bad looking either!).  Miller was adorable and brought that dose of comedic relief every time the audience needed it.  

So, while the audience certainly wasn’t in hell during I’ll Be Damned, the show could definitely use a bit of heavenly tweaking.

(For more information on Jaradoa Theater: http://jaradoatheater.org/)

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