Get Cultured — May 11, 2017 at 12:45 pm

“Baghdaddy” Deserves a Bigger Stage


Brandon Espinoza, Brennan Caldwell, and Claire NeumannCast of Baghdaddy. Photos by Ambe Williams (3)

Sometimes you go to a show expecting something entertaining. Sometimes, you go expecting a reflection of our life and what it means. Sometimes you go to the theater to find a deeper meaning to history and its many events. And sometimes, just sometimes, you get an explosion on stage that combines all of those things and and when it detonates, your whole body shakes — with laughter as much as pain. Baghdaddy by Marshall Pailet and A.D Penedo, is that explosion, and what’s left is an exposed country with a society that looks like the joke it is slowly becoming.

Cast of Baghdaddy. Photos by Ambe Williams (11)

The show is about the Iraq War and the many moments that led to it. At rise, we are met by a support group that is trying to share or deflect the blame, while at the same time looking for a justification. Then during the two hour running time we get to be in their lives to see what moved them to this place. We learn what caused their decisions and see it all play out. And while at first we are dying of laughter, it’s in the second act we realize we are only laughing at ourselves, at our history. Like one of the characters says “have you noticed this has gotten less funny?” Yes, we notice, but worse was the realization that it wasn’t ever funny at all.

Pailet directs this play like a master craftsman, knowing each piece contributes to the final product. From the movement to the silence, everything seems to have been meticulously placed. He manages to intertwine very human factors to each beat, getting us to understand the terrible conclusion for each of them. Love, success, respect, all the things we need to validate our existence. And such a strong work would have not been able to work without a cast to carry it.

Jason Collins and Cast of Baghdaddy. Photos by Ambe Williams (7)

The ensemble in this production is a perfect blend of personalities that takes its challenges and puts their own music to it. And talking about the music! Varied and in your face, it’s goodness is only betrayed by the space. I had a problem sometimes understanding it all as the sound travels all over the place at some points. But that’s less about the show and more about the venue itself. The musical aspects are as good, if not better than the book. I had so much fun with each number! They made each one unique, and let each member of the cast have their moments. And they all nailed it!

“Baghdaddy” is a must see production. Playing at the St. Luke’s Theater, what Paitel and Penedo put together is special and you don’t want to miss it.

*All images via Ambe Williams

Out of four stars:

4 stars

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