May 23--Checking in on Chase Padgett's "6 Guitars," which debuted at the 2010 Orlando Fringe Festival, is like visiting old friends -- if your friends were comic and musical geniuses.
There's Tyrone, the elderly bluesman; Rupert the good ol' boy; Michael, the young rocker wannbe. They (and three others) are all portrayed by Padgett, whose comic timing has only gotten stronger over time.
In his show, six very different musicians try to explain the appeal of their favored genre: country, blues or classical. But the humor comes from their personalities: a too-happy folk singer, the pretentious jazz lover.
Padgett's features dissolve from one character to the next, letting you know who will speak before he opens his mouth. Co-written with Jay Hopkins, the script gives him humorous line after line -- but in the 90-minute version being staged this year, time for audience banter showed he's equally quick at improvising.
In Padgett's hands, the jokes don't even have to be particularly original to fly.
"I been married six times," old Tyrone drawls. He pauses and contemplates a glass of whiskey. "I learned my lesson."
The music angle gives the play not only its structure, but its heart. When the folk singer warbles "You Are My Sunshine" at a beloved relative's funeral, the audience's ongoing laughter abruptly stops. You can hear a pin drop during that little ditty -- because that moment, more than any dissertation, explains with crystal clarity the power and necessity of music in our lives.
Welcome back, old friends.
90 mins. Rated G-14. Gold venue.
5-26, 7:45 p.m. (sold out)
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