Saturday, July 13, 2013

"When a Man Loves a Diva" at the Lab Theater

When a Man Loves a Diva is a simple but clever concept - three powerhouse male singers take on songs typically sung by a woman, a Diva to be precise. The result is a fun and entertaining evening of music and comedy, full of new takes on familiar songs. Led by musical director Sanford Moore, singer/actors Ben Bakken, Julius Collins, and Dane Stauffer sound fantastic on these songs. They all perform with super high energy and don't take themselves too seriously, but they do take the music seriously. The show returns to The Lab Theater after a successful run last year and continues through August 3.

Highlights of the show:
  • The show begins with old-school Divas - the great girl groups of the 60s. From "Leader of the Pack" to "He's So Fine" (back-up singers only), the guys then turned Madonna's "Like a Virgin" into a do-op girl group song.
  • All of the one-name Divas are covered - Aretha, Whitney, Adele, Cher, Britney, Gaga. Even someone as pop music illiterate as me knew all of the songs (even if I only knew the modern ones from Glee).
  • I don't know that I would call Patty Griffin a Diva, but she is a brilliant songwriter, and Ben's version of "Heavenly Day" is the highlight of the show for me. Unless it's when he sings Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" (if being one of two women named to Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists doesn't qualify you as a Diva, I'm not sure what does).
  • As Dane was pouring emotion into Dionne Warwick's ballad "Anyone Who Has a Heart," an audience member got up to leave, and Dane called after her - "don't go!" It was perfect timing, and only one example of how the men interact with and engage the audience.
  • What Diva medley is complete without "I Will Always Love You," written by one Diva (Dolly Parton) and made famous by another (Whitney Houston)? Not this one - Julius performs a quiet and beautiful version of the song.
  • These three guys all have their unique talents - Dane is a great comedic singer, Ben has the ability to give any song that rock edge, Julius can finesse a song beautifully - and complement each other very well. It's obvious they're having a great time together, which always helps the audience to have a great time too.
  • Bottom line - a great song is a great song, no matter who sings it. And "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" is no less great when sung by three men.

In the hottest month of the summer, "It's Raining Men" at the Lab Theater, and these men can sing! Take a break from the heat for some light, fun, summer entertainment. (Discount tickets available on Goldstar.)