In Short: I missed 465: Sex Drive… A Musical the first time around, but I am glad I caught this delightful Indianapolis-based musical comedy’s second lap. Here’s hoping for a 3rd one, so even more people could come see it.
My Rating: 4 Martinis / 5
As an avid Fringe goer, I am not sure how I missed hearing much buzz about this show during its premiere run at the 2012 festival. I knew it was selling well, but knowing that sex + musical = big ticket sales at Fringe fests, I wasn’t convinced that meant it was any good. Original plays are tough business. Original musicals are even harder. Beyond the challenge of writing quality music and lyrics, you are at a disadvantage simply because musical audiences are accustomed to primarily only seeing Broadway-caliber work. That sets the bar for expectations pretty high.
One of the things I often lament locally is theatre companies staging new works one-time and not going through the process of workshops and rewrites to refine the show and reach its full potential. The writers and producers of 465 Sex Drive used the Fringe festival as an opportunity to realize they had a good piece with potential to be great after more work. The result is a smart, funny and heartfelt script, well paced and terrifically performed.
Tackling subject matter like Grindr hookups, foot fetishes and Carmelite housewives provides plenty of great humor. But a comedy about sex-addiction, or any form of addiction, can quickly turn to poor taste if it relies on easy jokes making light of the subject matter. 465 Sex Drive succeeds by building full-realized characters with heart and depth beyond the jokes. These characters are relatable and likable enough to actually humanize sex addiction. The chemistry among the talented actors makes you believe that the characters would spend time together despite their inconvenient reason for meeting.
The music gives Erin Conhenour, Nathalie Cruz, Danny Kingston, Clay Mabbitt, Lincoln Slentz, and Carol Worcel each a moment to shine. Though a few songs are forgettable, all service the plot well. Stand-outs include the upbeat opening and closing ensemble number “On the 465” and the act two ballad “Too Many Mornings” sung by Danny Kingston and Natalie Cruz.
Kudos to the entire creative team: Lynn Lepold (music and lyrics) Ron Spencer (lyrics), Kenny Shepard (director, choreographer & script), Carol Worcel (co-director), Ty Stover (script), Sharla Steiman (script) Eric VanCleave (music arrangements) and Judy Lee (original concept).
Some shows no matter how good are hard sells; this is a show that could easily attract a mainstream audience for a longer run then the limited weekend engagement it had at Spotlight and relatively short Fringe run. Though if it does run again, I recommend picking a venue selling drinks before to loosen up the audience. It’s that kind of show.
For more information on 465 Sex Drive and future shows by the producers follow Red Boat Productions.
Review by Justin Brady
Former IndyFringe Guru. Nonprofit Marketing & Fundraising Specialist. He is thrilled to help create conversation around all the things he loves in Indy: innovative theatre, film and dance. Follow him and the Mission Intrigue blog on Twitter at @missionintrigue.