Griffin Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of THE BURNT PART BOYS. It’s 1962. A coal mine is about to be reopened. The rural Virginia town is divided about the news. People need the work but ten years ago, a cave-in killed a bunch of residents. Now, their sons and daughter react to the ‘burnt part‘ starting up again. Are their fathers‘ sacrifices being dismissed for business purposes? Or is grief overcoming the living’s decision-making ability. THE BURNT PART BOYS is a manly musical.
Eight of the nine performers are men. The harmonies and camaraderie are testosterone infused. This is a guy-guy musical. Father-son, brother-brother, bro-bro, the relationships are a dude-fest. The story itself could be “Billy Elliott the prequel.” Singing coalminers way before dancing divided the town. The miner tribute is a little light on story but heavy-duty on heart. It stays on the surface and doesn’t dig too deep. *spoiler alert* Situations resolve with television sitcom tidiness. But maybe that is exactly what men are looking for in their musical choices?!
This show is all about the singing! And when they are on, these gentlemen fill the room with rich vocal sounds. It sounds very boys-to-men choir. There were a few clunkers in the show I saw. In particular, the finale where someone(s) was off pitch. Primarily, the melodies, accompanied by a blues grass band, were spectacular collaborative feats. Charlie Fox (Pete) impressively leads with strong singing. Whether in a solo or shared tune, Fox is a standout. His big brother, Mike Tepeli (Jake) captivates with continued heart-felt responses. Tepeli croons and performs with passionate allure.
The entire brotherhood (plus a gal) and fatherhood (plus a guy) come together in commanding unison. Their chorus is, for the most part, perfectly pitched. The sight of these dirty and ruggy men sounding so pretty together is definitely a diamond in the rough.
Running Time: One hour and forty minutes with no intermission
At Theatre Wit, 1229 W. Belmont
Book by Mariana Elder
Music by Chris Miller
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Music direction by Nicholas Davio
Directed by Jonathan Berry
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
Thru December 22nd
Buy Tickets at www.griffintheatre.com