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Even wordy script can’t keep 2 singing brothers down

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Seems like every year, at least one Fringe musical explores - or maybe exploits - the trials of an aspiring singer who looks for fame and love against all odds.

Trite? You bet, but when it's good it connects. The Hoppers Hit the Road, about two singing brothers on a quest for the big time, is composed of a cast of Philadelphia improv actors who decided it would be fun to use a script. And it's good. If it can smooth out rough edges during this run, it will be better than that.

Hoppers is classic Fringe, done with joy and a sense that everyone, audience included, is a conspirator. Like some past Fringe faves, it's local, the story of two naive singing brothers raised by their grandma in Glenside. They set off to the big city to find fame and love after Granny kicks and wind up stranded in Cherry Hill, where a slew of misfits figure in the plot. Everyone's headed to Ocean City Music Pier; don't ask.

It's often funny, with lyrics that start off corny, then show an edge. ("Grandma! Your meatballs are to die for!" Then: "Grandma! Your chin hairs are an eyesore!")

The production - written, composed and directed by google-eyed Brandon Libby and hang-dog Michael Connor, who play the Hoppers - needs an editor. A 20-minute cut would keep the 90-minute-plus show chugging along. Wordplay becomes so gratuitous it deadens the action. Some scene changes feel like a new ketchup bottle; you want to pound the thing so it pours. Upside: The large cast - improv fans will know them - wrings freewheeling pleasure from the thing, even chained to a script.

$15. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St.

 

-Taken from The Philadelphia Inquirer (September 1, 2008)

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