By Joseph Myers, Staff Writer
In an interview with “The Guardian,” iconic screen actor Christopher Walken described his process of choosing which roles to take — “Things happen, and you say yes or no – usually ‘yes’, because it’s always better to do something.” This quote really stuck with Dave Droxler, who wrote and is starring in “Walken on Sunshine,” a musical based on this very specific quote by Christopher Walken.
This zany musical tells the story of brothers Gavin (Dave Droxler) and Quinn (DeLance Minefree) who are looking for investors for their newest film. After their umteenth rejection, Gavin cracks under pressure and tricks a potential investor into believing that Christopher Walken is cast in the their film. Gavin and his creative team have to figure out how to resolve this lie or get Christopher Walken to perform in their film.
“Walken on Sunshine” is a farce, relying on over-the-top character archetypes that it seems to hearken back to the tradition of Comedia Dell’arte. Other that a very unnecessary rape joke, “Walken on Sunshine” is incredibly humorous with its self-aware tongue-in-cheek humor. The type of humor straddles the line of “The Office”-esque awkward humor and classic physical comedy, focusing on the oddly specific enigma that is Christopher Walken. While this musical is funny and entertaining, there is not much else that the audience is left with other than a good laugh–there is not a likely chance that the audience leaves the theater thinking about what they learned from the play, nor were the characters or plot developed richly enough to be deeply invested in the outcome of the plot.
Notably, the performances of Paul Pakler (who played Dante and Mr. Richardson) and Jonathan Spivey (who played P.A. and Mr. Donaldson) were superbly committed–both actors performed at full energy, which made their character believable and their presence very fun to watch. Additionally, Jennifer Fouché tied the entire show together narrating the plot through song using her powerful, smooth voice and her carefully controlled comedic timing.
The set, lighting and blocking used the small minimal space to it’s advantage. You no longer are are in a small blackbox theater, but on a film set or investor’s office. The use of planes to create dimension makes a whimsical way of communicating a larger space. “Walken on Sunshine” features several slo-mo or dream sequences which were successfully achieved through the contrasting planes as well as flashlights. It’s simple but very effective.
“Walken on Sunshine” featured a final character that is never actually seen–Christopher Walken himself! This show encapsulates the essence of Walken wonderfully through Dave Droxler’s impression of Walken, masks of the actor’s face and references to famous Walken quotes, such as the iconic “more cowbell.” Although it may be a bit heavy-handed at certain moments, the particular wacky brand of humor compliments the musical well and overall creates an enjoyable audience experience.
“Walken on Sunshine” will be playing at the SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., as part of the Fringe Festival on 8/20 at 7:15 pm, 8/22 at 9:45 pm, and 8/26 at 2:15 pm.