rust belt theatre review Cast takes aim at love with ‘Dating Sucks’


By ERIC MCCrea

entertainment@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Six more weeks of winter can seem daunting, but The Rust Belt Theatre Company has the cure for your Cupid blues.

“Dating Sucks: The Musical” takes a comedic look at modern relationship issues (dating apps, digital pictures, online personals) and an age-old intimate dilemma (farts). In true Rust Belt fashion, this show features adult situations and dialogue and is rated R.

“Dating” doesn’t bore you with a continued plot, but satisfies a short attention span with independent songs, punctuated by short monologues based on real-life dating experiences.

A series of “Missed Connections” from Craigslist and accounts of “Things My Ex Said” had the audience roaring in between songs.

Robert Dennick Joki, not content to merely write and direct, made a few appearances from the sidelines, reminding audiences why he’s the boss. His voice was the velvety warm embrace we’ve all come to expect from him.

Wesley Miller impressed with his enviable vocal range and impeccable comic timing. He had a knack for delivery, and it was not wasted.

Rust Belt alum Kage Jonas Coven was one of the strongest vocally, and he had an undeniable presence. His harmonies were noticeable but not overpowering, and he made a big impact with probably the most respectful ditty written about breasticles.

Celena Coven was in the house and so were her great character skills. She was a real standout leading the cast in “Monogomy is for Ugly People” and she entranced the audience with her burlesque skills in “The Kids Are Not at Home.”

Nicole Zayas was hilarious with her song “Aye Caramba” as she bounced between accents, highlighting the humor.

Jessica Patoray, Madi Pomeroy, and Rachel Clifford formed a formidable trio. They shined at the beginning of one of the biggest numbers, a parody of Adele’s “Hello” which focuses on romantic obsession. The ingenues were also well received with Katy their Perry parody “Fart Song.”

Larger group numbers were light on choreography, and the harmonies were somewhat thin, but enthusiasm and energy were off the charts.

The use of a projector with images relating to the songs was clever, and often funny, but the timing was slightly off on opening night.

Rust Belt has mastered the art of an intimate show, drawing the viewer in, eliminating the wall that separates actor from audience. Adult language and situations make this show inappropriate for younger and more sensitive audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

“Dating Sucks: The Musical” will run Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. until Feb. 24. For reservations, call or text 330-507-2358.

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