Feel the burn! Spandex: A New Musical for All Sizes brings the all of the energy, fast-paced music, and teased hair of competitive Aerobics of the late 80's to the New York stage. Inspired by the viral YouTube video of the 1987 Crystal Light National Aerobics Championship, hosted by Alan Thicke, Spandex tells the story of how the empowerment of a good aerobic workout can bring a shy housewife out of her shell, a former star back in the lime light, or even spark a romance.
Tucked away in the Off Broadway 777 Theatre, Spandex is a hidden gem of musical comedy. Julian Blackmore and Daniel F. Levin's score is reminiscent of the infectious tunes of the late 1980's (days after seeing it, I still have the melody of the title song running through my head). The band, made of only three members, sat above the stage and became a part of the company themselves. From catchy pop tunes ("I Could Get Used to This") to tear-jerking ballads ("Now That You're Gone"), I found myself wanting to get up and dance along with the cast and wishing I had this soundtrack to take to the gym with me.
Lis Piccoli's choreography blends intricate aerobic steps with dance to create something of a spectacle onstage (I'm looking at you, Circle Wheel of Push-ups), and it doesn't hurt that the cast are some of the strongest dancer-athletes I've seen in a long time. From start to finish, the cast succeeds in not only landing every step, but hitting every note at the same time, which is quite an impressive feat, considering that almost every song included jumps, leaps, lifts, or squats. Stand out performers include Sims Lamason as Aerobic Queen Lorraine (who boasts a life of a former gymnast herself), Jaquez Sims as Fitness Guru Trip Allen, and Paige Sommerer as the hilariously ambiguous Deacon Doekstra (I'm sorry-- Derk-stra). With most of the cast making their New York debuts, I can't wait to see what each and every one of these young performers' careers have in store.
However, for how remarkable the talent aspects were, the production values itself fell as flat as your hair the day you run out of Aqua Net. For the amount of sponsors the show boasts, most notably Crunch Gym, I was hoping to see visuals that matched the content. The stage was painted half brown, half black, with a movable set of lockers with a bare-wood backing. A minimalist set is fine, but I would have liked to see the bright neons of the costumes matched on the set so as to create a world of The 1987 Crystal Light National Aerobics Championship, hosted by Alan Thicke for an audience to go to. This makes this hidden gem of musical comedy more of a diamond-in-the-rough.
All in all, Spandex: a New Musical for All Sizes is a hilarious and original piece of musical theatre and deserves to be brought to a wider audience.