In a long struggle to get to New York, Waiting in the Wings: The Musical has finally made it to Off-Broadway, for a limited time.
This inventive musical, loosely based upon Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, is also based upon the film festival favorite with the same name. COVID may have tried to stop the trip to New York, but Star/Writer Jeffrey A. Johns wouldn’t let his dream be stopped and it was well worth the wait.
Playing until June 4 at the Theatre at St. Clements, Wings is everything the movie was and more. It’s an endearing story of two men with the same name that get sent to the wrong stage production — one a drama queen (Johns) and the other a stripper (Matthew Kleckner).
The songs, many from the movie, are fun and uplifting and plot advancing. It’s amazing to see the amount of work went into the shoestring-budgeted show and it’s all right there on the stage.
Big kudos go to director Jay Falzone and choreographer Jennifer Kornsweit who take advantage of the small stage and fully use the creative scenic design of Cliff Price.
We immediately feel part of the show as before it technically opens, the actors spend a bit of time in character among the audiences. That makes us all feel part of the show and likely gives the actors a real connection to the audience.
As a fan of the movie, it’s no surprise that Johns the actor is one of the main reasons to love this show. His adorable and appealing innocent character wins over your heart. He’s upbeat and sweet but not saccharine — he makes you root for him to succeed even when his thin, twink-like physique has to perform as a stripper. Feeling I’d miss the actors from the movie that I’ve grown to care for, the live cast makes each part their own and washes away memories of the movie cast.
Adriana Nocco is a scene stealer as she plays scene stealer Delores. Zoe Schneider-Smith is also very appealing and adds freshness and proves to be a worthy love interest for one of the characters.
The other casting surprise is the male characters. Yes, we’re queer and like eye candy and this small, sweet little production delivers. It seems every type of man is represented in various roles showing there’s drool worthy male characters at every turn. Nathan Hoty is a sweet, kind hearted hottie and capitalizes on his boy next door looks. Ryan Borgo is the super queen among them and shows style and slickness, giving his character a dose of realness. Dante Giannetta has the body of a God and proves he can actually act too and Cooper Fitch is a fun relief who also seems cast to capture the attention of bears and otter lovers. There’s also Jonathan Chisolm that is truly the heart (and funny bone) behind the show as the drag queen who is the MC and “mother” of the strip club.
But the big surprise comes from the second lead, Matthew Kleckner. His super hot body makes one feel he’s typecast as a stripper and that alone is worth the ticket price. But don’t judge any book by its cover as this man can act and sing and completely surprised me. I was ashamed of myself for only staring at his body, but he got the New York accent down perfectly (maybe he’s a New Yorker and that wasn’t acting) but there’s a scene where he sings badly and then we learn later he can really sing, will just blow you away. And his bad dancing also seems to be have subsided with his character’s dance lessons within the show.
It’s very difficult to sing badly if you can really sing. Your ear and knowledge of music really makes it easier for you to stay on key and in pitch. So to stray from that on purpose is hard to do. Last time I was impressed with deliberate bad singing was Barbra Streisand in the movie All Night Long. Yes, she too can sing (duh) — but that character couldn’t.
From all of the cast to the songs to the direction, Wings has been worth the wait and now you must see it Off-Broadway before it’s gone. Get tickets at http://www.jjspotlightproductions.com.