2023 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Brunch with the Boys’ by Sean Pflueger (4 stars)

A lighthearted evening of operatic arias featuring five friends living different versions of the gay American love experience.

By Jill Kyle-Keith

It’s Sunday brunch, and Adam (Daniel Sherwood), Benny (Case Hope), Joe (Ben Clark), Milo (Alex Bodenham), and Thom (Sean Pflueger) get together for their weekly gossip and tall tales of conquest while their surly and impatient Waitress (Miss Kitty) pops in from time to time to plonk down mimosas and acid one-liners.

The five friends are more archetypes than full-fledged characters — there’s a Sugar Daddy, his less-than-fully-devoted Kept Husband, a roly-poly Bear, a Searcher For Love In All The Wrong Places, and a Handsome if Lonely Prince. At just an hour long, there’s little room for much character development, but that isn’t really the point of Brunch with the Boys.

The real reason to see this show is to hear the show, for composer Sean Pflueger has written some lovely music, and the cast is, to a man, a delight to listen to. Each guy can sing, kids. The lyrics by Michael Vegas Mussman, however, are patchier. At times there was a nice bit of humor, but there was too often a disharmony with the musical intent, and some lyrics were just downright cringy and too explicit to sustain a lighthearted mood. Even at brunch, we don’t need to hear the sticky details.

Of the five arias sung by the friends, Thom has the best piece, strongly delivered by Pflueger and with a delightfully ridiculous twist at the end. There are some great bits of broad and subtle humor in Brunch, but the difficult acoustics left the audience one beat behind — though it must be said that the producers seem aware of this deficit, for like all opera, there are subtitles provided by a small screen stage right.

No director is listed in the program, nor costumer, and it must be said the lack of both is apparent, with the cast very obviously wearing whatever was at hand and the staging so static it may as well be reader’s theater. Theater J’s stage is admittedly a small one, and with the fine orchestra of seven sharing half of it, well, there’s not a lot of room for maneuvering. Still, any chance for the cast to have a bit of business — buttering a roll, say, or gesticulating with a spoon — was dashed by the plastic food glued to plates, the resin-filled cocktail glasses, and the nonexistent silverware.

As Fringe shows go, it’s a good show; sure, it could be improved here and there, but if you’re a fan of light opera with a bit of wink-wink, nudge-nudge, pop on over to Theater J. Just don’t arrive for seating without all of your party present or you’ll hear Miss Kitty’s unvarnished opinion of you.

Running Time: 60 minutes.

Brunch with the Boys plays July 19 at 6:00 pm, July 21 at 8:00 pm, July 22 at 1:00 pm, and July 23 at 11:15 am at DCJCC–Theater J. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.

Genre: Musical
Director: Sean Pflueger
Assistant Director: Miss Kitty LeLynx
Music: Sean Pflueger
Lyrics: Michael Vegas Mussman
Performers: Alex Bodenham, Daniel Sherwood, Case Hope, Ben Clark, Sean Pflueger, Miss Kitty LeLynx
Orchestra: Aurelio Dominguez, Brad Rinaldo, Kyle Glasgow, Amir Norouznasseri, Daphine Henderson, Omar Martinez, Kris Taylor
Stage Manager: Doug Maryott
Rehearsal Pianist: Brad Rinaldo
Lighting: Ash Arnold
Graphic Design: Maura Kimble
Props: Maura Kimble
Age appropriateness: Appropriate for adults only
Profanity: Yes
Nudity: Yes

SEE ALSO: 2023 Capital Fringe Preview: ‘Brunch with the Boys,’ a comic opera (preview by Sean Pflueger, June 21, 2023)

The complete 2023 Capital Fringe Festival guidebook is online here.


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