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Soul Redeemer ~ Capital Fringe Festival

Jordan Wright
July 8, 2019


Is soul music making a comeback?  With the recent success of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations garnering 12 Tony Award nominations this season and Pride & Joy – The Marvin Gaye Musical that played the National Theatre two months ago, I’d say there’s an audience hungry to recapture those funky rhythms, groovy backbeat, slick harmonies and smooth vocals.  In Soul Redeemer by composer and lyricist Neal Learner (LIFE: A Comic Opera in Three Short Acts) in collaboration with Paul Handy (a veteran of four Capital Fringe Festival productions), the early 70’s vibe is on point both musically and visually.

The new musical stars Bryce Monroe, as Buddy King, a soul singer who flamed out on drugs in the high-flying 70’s and is looking to get back onto the charts.  Unfortunately, Buddy burned a lot of people, including his wife, Jeanine (Isabelle Pickering/Christina McCann), his producer, Jake (Evan Thanicatt), and his two backup singers, Quincy (Anthony Williams) and the sexy Melody (Melanie Lawrence), whom he has the hots for, much to the dismay of his pop singer wife.  It’s a tragedy, a romance and a comedy set to soul music with a disco scene thrown in for good measure.

(l-r) Isabelle Pickering and Bryce Monroe.

Handy conceived the show and Learner wrote all eight of the period songs giving the cast free rein to interpret his music and context resulting in a vibrant collaboration and a convincing freshness to his material. Both Monroe and Williams have strong, soulful voices and hot chops that put this one on your must-see Fringe list.

Nicely directed by Anya Randall Nebel, the talented cast of locals moves to the groove with terrific voices and fierce emotion.

Produced by Don Michael Mendoza of LA TI DO Productions with Assistant Director Larry O. Grey, Jr., and LeVar Betts and Josh Cleveland Co-Directing. A five-piece kickass band backs up the singers.

Last dates July 20th , 21st , 25th and July 27th at Westminster Presbyterian Church “Pickle”, 400 I Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024.

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