REVIEW – Becoming Britney – The Retro Dome

Britney Spears, move over, you’ve been replaced by the cast of Becoming Britney. The triple threat talent of this cast is seriously exciting to experience and truly top-notch. From executing one hip-hop pop dance number after another to belting solos and blending balanced harmonies to delivering brilliantly on comic elements, the group hardly seemed out of breath and never missed a beat during their no intermission high octane performance. Unfortunately the show itself couldn’t compete on the same level with the cast.

The show has undergone a lot of workshops and transformations in its short history and it felt to me like the kinks still weren’t all worked out. There were moments that felt disconnected as if cutting and pasting had diverted the piece away from a consistent through line. The beginning took too long to “get to it,” the end had that rushed “pencils down” can’t think of anything else, but need to write something down feel to it and the satirical side of breaking the fourth wall and commenting on the musical genre in the style of the broadway musical didn’t seem original enough to support the bright musical and dance numbers.

In some ways I think the technical requirements hurt the show as well. Too many costume changes for too little pay off, with music or dialogue seemingly created just to cover the changes. The best parts really were the comic spoofs and when too much seriousness and heart was brought into it, oddly enough, I couldn’t take it seriously. I admire the attempt to add more substance to the piece and I recognize the desire to tell a story about all facets of this pop icon, but like the pop princess herself, this piece at times felt as though it was going through an identity crisis of its own.

Though I fully support the concept of new musicals and feel like this show has huge potential as a whole, I couldn’t love it. Not unlike Britney Spears herself, I want to like her a whole lot more than I really do. Moments of greatness (I’d download My I Want Song) but not enough overall sparkle. The solid gold talent is a 5 but the show as a vehicle for that talent just doesn’t hold up and so it’s 3 out of 5 jewels in this princess’ review tiara. Becoming Britney play through March 11th at the Retro Dome in San Jose.

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