Review by BONNIE SLUDIKOFFJune 11, 2018 certified reviewer
What I liked
The slip and slide line about how you were probably white if you owned one- the lovely attention to details within the lyrics- the fact that the show didn’t dumb anything down- it even allowed a little bit of bad language, which I think was really important- I think the depictions of those with Down Syndrome is so often treated as this lower-level experience and these characters were given dignity- their own personalities…they were humans. That’s important.
What I didn't like
I want another 30 minutes.
The moment at the end where one cast member added some piano was LOVELY- I’d love a LITTLE more of that- as much as I am enthralled with the beatboxer who is beyond legit, it’s a musical and it’s nice to infuse a little more of that.
My overall impression
LEGIT! Conor Hanney has basically created a genre with his topical hip-hop musicals. Last year’s Fringe smash hit Divorce was poignant, hilarious and entertaining, and this year’s Best Buddies did not disappoint. I wondered how this would be handled- especially having seen the show’s performance at Fringe Cabaret- which just didn’t do justice to what this show is.
We get some important messages about friendship, we learn about Best Buddies- which, if you don’t know, is a longstanding (since 1989) non-profit that has been committed to ending the isolation of those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. We get some great info on that (without feeling like we’re being “taught”) through the mean-girl character who calls the club “Down Syndrome Best Buddies” before she finally sees the light. Eventually, everyone learns something about friendship- including the important lesson that we all need love and acceptance, regardless of our limitations, real or perceived.
The cast is spectacular- 5 members have special needs and the way their parts were individualized to bring out the best in them and maximize their talents was outstanding- same goes for the 5 non special needs cast members, who were all great in their roles- and the beatboxer who you forget isn’t a machine, because he doesn’t miss a beat, no pun intended. I recognize most (if not all?) of those 6 performers from last year’s show- I hope to see every one of them own whatever Hanney’s next musical is- I expect that they are his own personal Christopher Guest-esque circle of performers and they all work well together.