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A CurtainUp Review
A Boy and His Soul
By Julia Furay
A Boy and His Soul, written by Domingo and directed by Tony Kelly, is essentially a memoir of Domingo's childhood in 1970s Philadelphia. As he tells us at the show's start, this stroll through memory lane came about after he rediscovered his parents' abandoned record collection at his childhood home. As framing devices go, it's a little lame, but it effectively brings us to the meat of this staged memoir: Domingo's tale of growing up gay in the inner city, and his enthusiastic impersonations of his family members. From his sassy chain-smoking sister Averie to his salt-of-the-earth stepfather Clarence, Domingo's family is certainly a charismatic bunch. Domingo has brought them to life vividly, with gleefully cartoonish mimicry and witty writing. Although some of these family vignettes have a somewhat too saccharine feel, they are the show's unquestionable highlight.
Director Tony Kelly has kept the pace fast and the staging varied. S Scenic designer Rachel Hauck's crowded basement set feels a little underused and over-detailed, but Marcus Doehl's lighting amplifies the emotions of Domingo's tale considerably. special mention should be given to Tom Morse's expert sound design.
Of course, not to be overlooked is all that music. As Domingo tells us, music is basically another character in his story. As he puts it "In my family and many families like mine, soul music was like a relative." And so at various points he croons along with Marvin Gaye, recreates an Earth, Wind and Fire concert, encourages the audience to sing along with him, and dances smoothly to Ken Roberson's low-key choreography.
Domingo certainly succeeds in articulating the importance of music to his family, and soul music fans will be delighted to rediscover lots of forgotten gems. For the rest of us, it's left to his writing (and especially) performing talents to win us over. Thankfully we are not disappointed.