Thursday, July 10, 2014

Review: (Toronto) No Chance In Hell - A Musical (Fringe)

When Hell Is Heaven
by joel fishbane

As irreverent as it is entertaining, No Chance in Hell - A New Musical succeeds in being something that’s all too rare these days: a musical comedy that’s actually musical and a comedy. With no aspirations other than to be entertaining, writers Chris John (book and lyrics) and Kevin Fox (music) have crafted a song and dance confection that, with its echoes of Damn Yankees, calls us back to the musicals of the golden age.The show isn’t perfect, but that’s something that can be fixed the next time around – and let’s hope there is a next time, hopefully in a production that includes the same talented cast.

Poor John Smith (Isaac Bell) is trapped in purgatory until a bureaucratic error sends him to Hell where he’s put in the custody of Decadence (Jody-Anne Whitfield), a sultry devil who is, in the best tradition of musicals, secretly good at heart. Their budding romance puts them at odds with demons Lucius (Jake Foy), Chelsea (a hysterical Dana Jean Phoenix) and, of course, the Devil himself (Jonathan Whittaker). Although the story takes a few unnecessary twists and turns, it remains a fairly clever comedy with a grab-bag of catchy songs and witty punchlines.

The ensemble is clearly enjoying the material and, best of all, have the vocal chops to handle the score (not something that always happens in musicals at the Fringe). Choreographers Jody-Anne Whitfield and Matthew Pinkerton come up with some great comedic dances, especially when they take advantage of the size difference between gangly Isaac Bell and pint-sized Dana Jean Phoenix. 

This is a show that, like its characters, deserves reincarnation. Here’s hoping the powers that be sit up and take notice; No Chance in Hell has every chance of being a heavenly hit. 

July 2 - 13

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