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A CurtainUp Review
Placed in the fictional town of Romeo, Vermont (has playwright Matthew Freeman been hanging out with playwright Annie Baker?), the play opens at the start of the town's all-male Glee Club rehearsal. Director Ben (Stephen Speights) is anxious; soloist Hank has yet to show up. In the meantime, we meet the other six members of the club — a rag-tag, woodsy bunch. There's Paul (Steven Burns), the possible/probable serial killer; Fred (Bruce Barton), the overzealous (undertalented) glee member; Hank (Tom Staggs), the soloist, who may be derailing his voice by changing his life; and a handful of other characters who all simultaneously seem too ridiculous to be real, yet feel oddly familiar.
The gist of Glee Club goes like this: This hokey community glee club is to perform one original song at the nursing home of their most important donor. The problem is, they can't get through more than a few bars before Ben (also the ditty's writer) stops them in disgust. At each pause, the group — with their wacky personalities — seem on the verge of chaos. Worst of all, Hank can't seem to get his supposedly angelic voice to cooperate, creating a series of hysterical desperate maneuvers on the part of the other group members and director.
Playwright Freeman excels at the ridiculous — the unsubstantiated anger, the freakish thoughts said aloud, the amazing desperation. And it's these factors which make Glee Club the fun ride that it is. The more "straight-ahead" dialogue, however, is at times clunky, feeling a little too much like filler in between the wacky. All eight actors are charming and specific. They have clearly dedicated themselves to making each character have a full story, and this brings out the best in each performer.
Glee Club is most certainly a crowd-pleasing comedy. Pair that with a crowd-pleasing song (spoiler-alert: you do, eventually, get to hear it through), and you've got yourself a fun evening.