Review: San Diego Musical Theater’s “Jukebox Hero” Concert Has a Playful Musical Theme

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For their latest fundraising gig, the San Diego Musical Theater picked up 13 songs from Broadway jukebox musicals and created their own – a brief collection of playful, lightly scripted songs called “Jukebox Hero.”

For those unfamiliar with the term “jukebox music,” this is a show where a script and characters are written to match the lyrics of a composer’s most famous songs. One of the most successful of this genre on Broadway is ABBA’s “Mamma Mia !,” which provided the loose inspiration for AWD’s “Jukebox Hero”.

As in “Mamma Mia! The main character of “Jukebox Hero” is a single woman in her forties who runs a tavern (in this case, a cabaret called Jukebox) and dreams of the glory days lost in her twenties. The minimalist storyline was written by MTDS general manager Neil Dale, who also runs the entertaining 42-minute show and is part of the seven-member cast.

Shirley Johnston stands out as the unnamed main character of “Jukebox Hero” which opens the series with a soulful version of “I Have a Dream” from “Mamma Mia!” Late at night, her “fairy godmother”, played with humor by Karyn Overstreet, arrives and promises to help her make her singing dreams come true.

This is followed by a flashback where Johnston’s character remembers moving to the big city with his gay best friend, Michael (played by Berto Fernandez), where they attempted to launch a singing career. She falls in love with lounge singer Aaron (played by Luke Harvey Jacobs), but he runs away with Michael, causing her to return to her hometown and give up on her dreams. The other characters in the series are an unnamed couple courting singing at the Tavern (Dale and Jennifer Hubilla) and a Talent Manager (Bryan Barbarin) who arrives at the Jukebox Cabaret and spots the owner’s long-hidden talent.

There is very little dialogue, so the lyrics are left to tell the stories of the characters. Some of the show’s best performances include Johnston’s ode to love “Here We Are” from the musical “On Your Feet”; The “Moulin Rouge” Overstreet “fireworks”! Musical comedy ” ; Jacobs’ “I Love Nightlife” in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”; and “Reach Out” by Barbarin.

“Jukebox Hero” airs on demand until May 30. Tickets are a minimum donation of $ 15. Visit sdmt.org.


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