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Theatre Review: Shadowbox Live’s Nightmare on Front Street: Horror and Hilarity

 Lisa Much Theatre Review: Shadowbox Live’s Nightmare on Front Street: Horror and HilarityNIghtmare on Front Street, now playing at Shadowbox Live.
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Just a couple days ago, Columbus dealt with long days of stifling late summer humidity. The next day, the city experienced instant autumn, which nicely coincided with Shadoxbox Live’s newest creation Nightmare on Front Street. This show presents a fun foray into some fine sketch comedy, music, and video shorts.

While less nightmare and more Front Street, this show features signature Shadowbox tricks. Filled with sketch comedy with scary or Halloween undertones, the show moves at a fair pace with well rehearsed and calculated rock n’ roll.

Jimmy Mak and David Whitehouse in Nightmare on Front Street.

Let’s start with the comedy: Jimmy Mak and David Whitehouse prove just brilliant in this production. From the adorably weird “Campfire Boys” where two Boy Scout best friends discuss horror movies, to the weirdly adorable “Night of the Liberal Apocalypse” where two trailer buddies come to grips with the impending takeover of America by the far left…and homosexuality, the two provide side-by-side constant laughs. By far the best of the evening comes from the ensemble sketch “Sneak a Peek” in which John (Whitehouse) and Shelly (Julie Klein) discuss the upcoming family-oriented horror movies, including the side-splitting Rob Zombie’s Dora the Horror and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shagging (based on Scooby Doo).

Nightmare on Front Street, now playing at Shadowbox Live.

The show also features an excellent video theme, in which Mak reads in Haunted Columbus that the Shadowbox Live space contains a ghost. Throughout the evening, we see several videos where Mak attempts to find the apparitions or their proof, Ghost Hunter style, with hilarious results. Witty sound, light, and video cues keep the show moving by adding a little extra comic punch. Overall, the show features excellent writing by the talented SCRAWL.

Of course, the production contains beautifully rocking music performed by the in-house band, BillWho? Leah Haviland belts a moving “Mr. Brightside” with haunting harmonies by Noelle Grandison. Stev Guyer sings Nine Inch Nails’ “Terrible Lie” in what proves an excellent choice for him.

Apart from a couple exceptions, it felt as though many of the songs seemed almost too rehearsed and calculated. The Shadowbox Live performers always bring a vocal A-game, but this show feels different from others. It sort of feels less rock n’ roll and more like carefully performed and controlled songs. They sound great; no musical complaints exist, but the passion and spontaneity-appearance that we grow accustomed to at Shadowbox felt missing. Perhaps the ghost took it.

Nightmare on Front Street offers an array of sketches, songs, and video comedies, all with a slightly different take on scary. For a different yet hilarious evening out on these chilly fall nights, take a trip to Shadowbox Live.

Photos by Studio 66.

Nightmare on Front Street runs until November 16 at Shadowbox Live, 503 S. Front Street. Fri. & Sat. at 7:30 & 10:30 pm. No performance Sep. 27. Tickets $30; $20 for students & seniors. More information can be found online at www.shadowboxlive.org.

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