I’ll be the first person to admit that, when it comes to musical stage performances, I am a shameless snob. I can’t help it! For better or worse, having spent two decades living in northeastern United States, attended music school, and being partnered for nearly one of those decades to an extremely talented musical composer, not to mention rubbing shoulders with some pretty amazing performers, truly spoiled me rotten. As such, I’ve never really cared much for the work done by the local community theater scene, in English or Spanish, particularly when the productions have relied heavily on recorded tracks as musical background instead of live music. I may have no choice but to change my standpoint on this issue, however, after having attended Mikki Prost’s spectacular musical revue, “Fever,” at Santa Barbara Theater, just a few days ago.
“Fever” brings together a varied but coherent group of songs from the musical stage along with a few jazz standards, tackled here by Ms. Prost, and divided in two sets by a brief intermission. Without missing a beat, she keeps things entertaining from the get-go, visually and otherwise, by constantly surrounding herself by two male dancers, Angel Stopier, and Ian, whose work choreographing and co-directing the show truly brought the entire production to a higher level. Creatively switching gears in repertoire from heartfelt and sassy ballads to upbeat dance tunes allows for clever costume changes by all involved throughout the performance and keeps things interesting for the audience. And for Ms. Prost, I’m sure that being the owner of Encore Boutique, a clothing consignment store, doesn’t hurt a bit, when it comes to finding dazzling and playful gowns to wear during her show!
But what truly blew my mind about “Fever” is the combined creative effort of everyone involved, from lighting and sound design, to wardrobe and certainly the performers. Ms. Prost’s instrument, not too powerful, but certainly not shy, is right on target for the songs selected, and the sound technician was careful enough to ride her microphone level, making sure that she was never overshadowed by the musical accompaniment at any time. The stage, not large at all, and yet, you could see and “feel” the performers carrying on as though their performace space was four times larger. Oh, and did I tell you this girl can dance? Choreographer Ian puts everyone through a rigorous workout during the upbeat songs, and elicits a truly sexual mood in a couple of dance routines where he shares the stage with Ms. Prost, who is not shy to deliver an unabashedly sadistic and spectacular pas de deux at the end of the first half.
One could only imagine what this talented troupe would have looked like on a larger venue!
I never saw “Fever” before and know that it has been around for over a year. But with such a swift pace and terrific ensemble performance, one might be inclined to think of this as “Fever 2.0,” better, faster, sexier!