Wednesday, June 15, 2016

HFF: Bumpersticker: The Musical, a Sure-fire Fringe Favorite

L-R: Jahmaul Bakare, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Lamont Dozier, Jr., Anne Yatco,
Nadia Ahern, and Zachary Ford

Bumpersticker: The Musical conquers the Hollywood Fringe Festival with its terrific triple threat combination making it great for people who don’t like musicals and even better for those who do. It’s the right show in the right venue with the right cast, and a rousing good time from beginning to end.

The band, the vocals, and the blend all sound great (yes, it is loud so be prepared) under the musical direction of David O. He’s one of best of the best when it comes to local musical directors – in all musical styles – and this show is no exception.

The venue is Asylum at The Dragonfly, a nightclub where the music rocks, the bar stays open during the show, and the atmosphere is decidedly dark and fringy. It’s perfect for Gary Stockdale and Spencer Green’s homage to the aphorisms that define our lives, all printed on little sticky pieces of paper and proudly plastered on the cars we drive.

The lyric to the opening number says it all. “People know what you are by what you stick on your car,” and in the next 90 minutes you’ll meet 8 outstanding singer/actors playing a wide range of drivers (and a few assorted passengers) who come from all walks of life. Somewhere in there, you’re bound to see yourself.

Catchphrases like “My Other Car is a Porsche” and “My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honor Student” set up comic riffs on the insecurities and hopes of adults and parents everywhere. “I ♥ ____” sung by huggy bear Lamont Dozier, Jr. is a satisfying ode to the things we love but with a humorous twist. He’s got the market cornered on that smooth Motown sound and between this number and his R&B charmer “Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How” you’re gonna fall for that voice.

If by some reason you don’t, well you’d be crazy, but Jennifer Leigh Warren is coming up next with a big old dose of Gospel glory to the slogan “Honk if you Love Jesus.” There’s nothing like hearing her bring down the house, with a dashboard Jesus on the screen and a chorus of voices backing her up, revival style.

Zachary Ford

Zachary Ford plays all the radio DJs who interact with the drivers and connects the various scenes with an almost schizophrenic intensity while stepping in and out of the action.

Trucker Bill’s (Eliot Hochberg) slogan “Gas, Grass or Ass, Nobody Rides for Free” turns into a challenge à la Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” when he picks up a pretty young thing (Lauren Rubin) who may seem shy at first but can bite off an armadillo’s ear, conquer quantum physics, and still look like the Mudflap Girl by the time the song’s done.
The cast of Bumpersticker: The Musical

The show also pokes fun at current issues like immigration in a reggae version of “America is Full, Go Home” featuring Jahmaul Bakare, and freedom of speech, a hot button right now given the political landscape, in “America, Love it or Leave it.” “Free Speech is great unless someone’s feelings get hurt,” says Ford as patriotism and rebellion clash heads. The song eventually turns into a steamy dance duet with Ford and Lady Liberty (Lauren Rubin) in the vein of “Steam Heat.” It’s a great blend of jazzy 1950’s musical theatre and BDSM, thanks to director/choreographer Michele Spears. Spears is one of the founding members of the LA-based improv company Impro Theatre, and she stages the show with a delicious blend of smarts and sass.

In “Well Behaved Women Don’t Make History,” girl power and the ‘80s pop sound of Pat Benatar and Blondie’s Debbie Harry give a crazed assistant (Anne Yatco) the confidence to take control of her situation with some help from a friend (Nadia Ahern).

Eliot Hochberg
There are also very touching sequences featuring the Rainbow Equal Sign highlighting the strides we’ve made in the fight for gay marriage, a former serviceman beautifully singing about not taking his guns away, and a hat tip to the symbols that define us in “Coexist.” Musical theatre fans, listen for the nod to Godspell here and the dissonant chord on “what could go wrong” which is just one example of how well the music & lyrics work together to make the writers’ point.

Each of these little story songs is a complete look at a life or a belief and together they become a microcosm of the planet. All facets of the human condition are represented in Bumpersticker’s message. You’re in for some laughs, great singing, crazy characters, touching moments and a final reminder that will leave you encouraged about your fellow travelers.

Without a doubt, if you want to know what makes a person tick, just look at their bumper sticker.

Through June 23, 2016
Asylum @ The Dragonfly (Main Stage)
6510 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tickets: $15 at

The cast of Bumpersticker: The Musical

Zachary Ford and Lauren Rubin

Jahmaul Bakare, Eliot Hochberg, Anne Yatco, Nadia Ahern
 and Jennifer Leigh Warren
Lauren Rubin and the cast of Bumpersticker: The Musical

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