Miami New Drama, Miami Beach's resident theater company, together with Sarasota's Asolo Repertory Theater, has a spectacular show right now at Lincoln Road's Colony Theater.
The energy produced is contagious. I lost thirty years, thirty pounds, and a sackful of wrinkles just walking into the theater. The last time I enjoyed rap music was never, but there it was, shaking the cement of the 83 year old Colony and I reveled in it. Six video screens surrounding the stage flashed videos of the wrestlers. Oh, did I tell you “Chad” is about the wrestling profession? Well it is, and then some.
A splendid cast reveals the best kept secrets of the canvas sport, enthralling not only with their acting, amazing with their physicality, shaking the joint with every body slam, drop kick, jump from the ropes, and grotesque expression. And it's all caught live on camera, projected onto the back screen and the six side screens.
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity,” written by Kristoffer Diaz, starts slowly, however, with Pierre Jean Gonzales as Mace, sitting on the bare stage, telling of his childhood, dreaming of becoming a professional wrestler and eventually becoming the reliable loser hired to make the good guy look good. Of course the loser is the much better wrestler, but, hey, it's a job.
Mace tells the tale, and Gonzales, built, as we used to say, like a brick outhouse and crazily athletic, demonstrates his chops. This guy has it.
Not that the other actors are lacking. Todd Allen Durkin as Everett K. Olsen, owner of the wrestling company, ring announcer and the great manipulator, is wonderfully over the top nasty. He cavorts in the ring, perching on the turnbuckles, until oops, he's decked with a smack to the nose.
Garrett Turner is super star Chad Deity and he's everything the Elaborate Entrance calls for. Huge, muscle on muscle, skimpy tights, gorgeous smile, (drool, drool, from the audience) and he moves with the abandon that's surely reckless. His sneers and snarls are a delight. Remember, there's a live camera man (Gabriel Bonilla) and six tv screens.
The role of Vigneshwar Paduar is played by Raji Ahsan. He's a cool thinker, speaks several languages, including Brooklyn Street, and of course he becomes The Fundamenalist, the terror from any country ending in istan, who has to fight The American hero, Old Glory, (Jamin Olivencia) who is also Billy Heartland and The Bad Guy. Watch out for the Sleeper Cell Kick.
Side note: there was a house shill, an attractive, provocatively dressed young woman sitting on the aisle one row ahead of me. She was whooping and waving, jumping up and down, posing for crazy selfies, and at one point waving a large paper banner just as The Bad Guy thumped down the aisle on his way to the ring. He stopped at her seat, grabbed the banner, ripped it into pieces, and scattered them overhead. It's that kind of show.
The Elaborate Entrance?
Oh, it's all that. Giant metal doors swing open, banks of lights blind the audience and out of the glare struts the magnificent Chad. Bring your shades and ear plugs. He bobs and weaves to the blasting music, his six pack almost obscenely thrusting out The Belt. The thing is huge, and a million candles bright, sparkling with a thousand diamonds. They must be real, because Chad also makes it rain. Real money, too.
You can't resist. You have to love this show. You're slapped into your seat, soaking up the experience. You can't escape the humor and that's the secret of its success. It's a long piece, let's save the world and all the other political jam, but that's ultimately lost in the joy of brilliant actors having fun. If you can call being kicked in the groin and thrown out of the ring fun.
Jen Wineman directed and her work is perfectly imaginative. The costumes by Eduardo Sicango are hilarious, viz the pink sombrero, pink vest and Carmen Miranda sleeves worn by Mace. The set and the ring by Tim Macabee, the lighting by Alan C. Edwards, and the sound by Luqman Brown are all of the best.
"The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" plays through Feb. 18, at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. 305-674-1206 www.colonymb.org