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Yes, KILLER RACK at the Alleyway Theatre is campy and lowbrow and yes, we loved it

THE BASICS:  KILLER RACK: The Feminist, Horror Musical Comedy, written and directed by Neal Radice, with a large ensemble cast of Alleyway “regulars” runs through October 7, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (852-2600). Enter from the alley which connects Main and Pearl, along the south wall of Shea’s. Run time: two hours with one intermission. Soda pop available.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  Based on the 2015 locally produced movie of the same name, a mousy office clerk, Betty Downer, begins to suspect that she is missing life, not to mention promotions at work, because she is flat chested, something her clod boyfriend often points out. Even the two wolf-whistling oglers at the corner ignore her. When Dr. Libby Niptuck offers affordable breast augmentation, Ms. Downer feels up, temporarily, but Betty’s boobs come with a hidden agenda: her new rack is a killer, literally.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: I don’t know why this show works, but it does. Disney loves to produce musical comedies from movies, so why not the Alleyway’s Neil Radice? I’m not usually a fan of Mr. Radice’s music, but the KILLER RACK songs are tuneful and the lyrics are clever and contemporary. The action moves right along and it has all the elements you’d want in a rom-com musical: introspective bathed-in-a-pool-of-light solos from the principals, some clever duets, a couple of wacky high-energy ensemble numbers with characters dancing all over the stage, and, in the end, true love.

The experienced and fun cast includes: Emily Yancey, Nathan Andrew Miller, Kim Piazza, Joey Bucheker, Kyle Baran, Andrew Zuccari, James Cichocki, Heather Reed, Sabrina Kahwaty, and Colleen A. Pine.

During the show, most of the cast performs utility roles, except for our romantically challenged couple. The cute-as-a-button Emily Yancey stays as Betty Downer and Nathan Andrew Miller stays in the role of Tim Trite, the doughy “nice guy” at the office who has a secret crush on Betty. Kim Piazza only appears on stage as Dr. Niptuck, but Piazza’s stunning off-stage voice provides the voice-over for “Betty’s Boobs” (the titular…. sorry I couldn’t resist) “Killer Rack.”

Everyone else takes on multiple roles, with kudos to Joyce Stilson for multiple costumes (and we’ll assume wigs and makeup) although I would suspect that local favorite Joey Bucheker, when gender bending as Dr. Niptuck’s nurse/receptionist, may have had a hand in the fabulous makeover. Stepping away from his drag creation Betsy Carmichael as seen on other stages, Bucheker’s performance in KILLER RACK as Nurse Candida is a “must see.”

Overall, this is a good looking, energetic crew, and, yes, this is low-brow, campy humor. We loved every minute of it and so did the audience around us. I’m pretty sure that when you go you will too.

Rating:  Three and a half Buffalos

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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