Part of the concept of Food Truck Summer is to make more of an effort to experience all of the diverse things that Columbus has to offer. In furtherance of that salutary goal, last night Kish and I joined Mr. and Mrs. JV at Best of Shadowbox Live 2014.
Shadowbox is a local sketch comedy/performance troupe. Although the group has been performing for 25 years and I’ve lived in Columbus that entire time, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never seen them before. Last night, therefore, I was a “virgin” — and the Shadowboxers tend to shout out the presence of virgins to the entire room of patrons. It’s a small price to pay for getting your first taste of this talented collection of performers.
A few background points about Shadowbox. It’s in the Brewery District of Columbus, and its got a good performance space. Parking is cheap (only $3) and readily available. There’s a bistro section where you can have a drink or order food before or after the performance, and you can also eat in the performance space itself. The food is a cut above what you would expect for a performance venue. I had a grilled chicken sandwich that was both tasty and reasonably priced.
If you choose to eat in the performance hall, which is what we did, you’ll be waited on by the same folks who will be performing. So, we ordered our nachos, pastas, and sandwiches from a friendly woman who, a few moments later, was convincingly portraying a teenage skank up on stage. The performers even wait on you during intermission, and return after the show is over to cash you out. Needless to say, they really work hard, so if you go, leave a generous tip — they clearly deserve it.
The show itself runs two hours and alternates between sketch comedy and songs performed by a full rock band. We sat in the section nearest the performers and were so close to the stage that you could feel the bass vibrations through the floor under our feet. The band occupies one end of the stage and the sketch comedy occurs at the other end, with lighting changes allowing sets to be changed on the darkened part of the stage. It’s a very quick-moving show, and the amphitheater design of the performance space ensures that there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
The comedy parts of the show were quite good. I particularly liked the Cold Feet, about a long-married couple’s odd reaction to renewing their vows, Coming Out and Going Home, about a gay guy who finds a surprising reception when he confesses his sexual orientation and another preference upon returning to his parents’ home from college, and Good Driver Discount, about designing properly PC TV commercials for an insurance company.
As good as the comedy was, I thought the music was even better. The house band really puts out the sound, the staging and costumes are great, and the music pieces showed that the performers had talent to burn. My favorites were the creepy I Put a Spell On You, sung by a female performer with a fabulous voice, a sultry, incense-burning rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, which is seen in the picture at the top of this post, and Prince’s Gett Off, which absolutely kicked ass and closed the show with a bang.
One other great thing about going to Shadowbox — you can buy tickets for upcoming shows for a significant discount and get some other freebies. We bought tickets to a future show and got free tickets to two other events. We’ll be back.