Barcode @ Bowery Electric
In a world of freedom viruses, prozac pops, mandatory debt, flag fests, and love, Barcode, the new rock musical, explores the not-so-distant future. In a society run by a corporation, Earth Corp, Nest, the son of the television anchor of Earth Corp, defies societies corrupt ideals with an underground group called The Data Jammers, while searching for his father. The book and music is written by Debbie Andrews and Mike Blaxill of the band Gladshot. They also star in the show. The book had an interesting take on what the future could be and how it intertwined with the basic plot of the show. Though Barcode shows a lot of promise, there were moments that felt as if it was dragging. At times the future seemed busier than a typical New York City day. There were a lot of great ideas but I wonder if some of these ideas could’ve been executed differently, or cut from the story. However I did get a kick out of Prozac Pops. They could’ve stuck to a few of their concepts and let the plot develop on its own naturally. The music is infectious and catchy. The score is a perfect blend of pop, indie rock, and charm.
The cast is comprised of theater actors whose credits span from Broadway to Off Broadway. Brian Charles Johnson was sly as the head of Earth Corp, Mr ICE. Having seen him play bit parts in both Broadway’s Spring Awakening and American Idiot, it was nice to see him command the stage. He possessed a strong presence, which I already knew he had. It would’ve been easy to have gone over the top but his subtlety made his character enjoyable to watch. Molly McAdoo as Jill Sosmiley, possessed a perfect amount of pep and comedic flare. She shined throughout the show, especially during her musical number “I’m so smiley.” Debbie Andrews was enjoyable to watch. Debbie as Dorna was mellow yet resistant towards the corrupt futuristic society. Mike Blaxill as Nest could’ve possessed a little more confidence, and I wished he was a bit more resistant in having to conform to what he doesn’t believe in.
Though Barcode feels like it’s still in one of its first stages of development, this catchy rock musical has a lot of promise. With some re-writes this show can certainly take off in a more commercial run. I’m interested to see more, but I hope it doesn’t get lost in the future. Also I want a cast recording as soon as possible!