Before Stayin' Alive begins, you already have an indication that the show is going to be a little different. While the cast is offstage waiting to come on, there are a few performers already seated onstage. One of these performers is being visited by a man from the audience with a baby in his arms who felt comfortable enough to walk right up on stage.
You see, Stayin' Alive is performed by a group called The Downtowners formed of residents from the Orlando Lutheran Towers, they range in age from 70 -95. The reason there are performers onstage already is because they don't get around as easily as their counterparts waiting in the wings. The gentleman ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”breaking the fourth wallÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â is a son holding a grandchild, no doubt.
The concept is similar to a group from up north called Young @ Heart (documented in an evocative film of the same name): elderly people singing primarily songs not from their generation, or songs one would assume would not be to their taste. Suffice to say, you have not Fringed until you have seen women your grandmother's age singing Beyonce's ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”Single Ladies,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â complete with accurate choreography.
By my count, The Downtowners are three degrees of separation from the Glee kids. Follow my logic here: Downtowner Jim Reid sings a fun (if mildly homophobic) parody of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”She Thinks My Tractor's SexyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â which was co-written by Chord Overstreet's dad. A bit of a stretch? How about they also do a Glee-inspired rendition of Journey's ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”Don't Stop Believin'ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â? The real difference between those kids and The Downtowners goes beyond age: the Glee crew is perfection-obsessed, for The Downtowners that doesn't seem to be much of a concern. Immaculate vocals take a backseat to the triumph of having the stones to perform in your twilight years in the first place.
The show does have some uncomfortable, though forgivable, moments when cast members lose their place in a song or forget lyrics. Beyond the toll years take on our ability to remember, the Fringe is a hectic performance environment for anyone. Director Tim Hanes, a master of working with new and non-performers, keeps things light by good-naturedly reminding the audience that we'll all be old one day (with any luck) and encouraging the audience to sing along. Still, it might have been more advisable for the Fringe debut of The Downtowners to have taken place in one of the festival's free formats.
Having said that, there are many moments you will take away with you: Jack Inman leading everyone with ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”What a Wonderful World,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â Julette Maynard's spunky ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”It's Raining Men,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â and Frank Moletteire singing ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã…”Your Mama Don't DanceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‚Â while wagging his finger at the audience as if he is imparting sage advice from this Kenny Loggins song. Your mama may not dance, your daddy may not rock ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã‹Å“n' roll, but it turns out your grandparents do!
Show: Stayin' Alive
Theatre Group: The Downtowners ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢”šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Orlando, FL
5/23 Mon. 7:40 PM
5/26 Thu. 5:30 PM
5/28 Sat. 11:30 AM
5/29 Sun. 2:20 PM
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