Audiences at the Broadway Comedy Club are in for some head-scratching and knee-slapping as the cast of On The Spot improvises and sings its way to creating a zany new musical performance every Monday night. The cast, made up of five singers, four improv actors and one pianist work together to create an entertaining, eclectic and somewhat perplexing hour and a half of comedy and cabaret.
The cabaret singers (Darby Puckett, Alyssa Beckman, Amanda Gallagher, Sydney Beck and Leigh Akin) all know the songs they’ll be performing before the start of the show. But the players (Patrick Reidy, Chris Catalano, Meg Reilly and Andrew Del Vecchio) have no clue what will come out of the singers’ mouths. Their job is to create a 10- 15-minute “scene” after each song, completely “on the spot.”
Songs during the July 27 performance ranged from Arthur Hamilton’s “Cry Me A River” to “Frank Mills” from the iconic 1960s musical Hair. Alyssa Beckman’s belting was impressive, while Sydney Beck brought a ton of personality to her performance of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me.” Unfortunately, the resulting scenes were very hit-or-miss. Often, entire scenes passed without one reference to the song that had been sung and situations seemed to be disjointed and sloppy.
As the night went on (each singer performed two songs) the skits began to refer back to situations, themes and jokes from previous scenes which helped to create more flow. Regrettably, to describe this as the creation of a “musical” throughout the course of the night seemed misleading. That’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty of laughter at the laid-back venue. A two-drink minimum kept people in good spirits while the acting and quick wit of Patrick Reidy (long-time New York City improv regular and On The Spot director) stood out among the cast of characters. Meg Reilly, though hilarious, seemed stuck in the same deadpan delivery of similar-sounding jokes throughout the night.
Relaxed, relatable and sometimes raunchy, On The Spot appealed to audiences with one-liners about fingers covered in Dorito dust and Steve Harvey on Family Feud. Themes ranged from ants avoiding death-by-stomping, to children playing hockey with a baseball bat in the library, to a “secondhand poetry night.” A bright spot in the performance was pianist Andrew Whitback’s moment to shine—playing and singing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” to the delight of the audience, who found themselves involved and clapping along.
The performance seems to regularly end with singers and players alike ad-libbing along to “Oh What A Night.” Though somewhat cheesy, it worked to wrap things up after an otherwise chaotic show. For a small-scale production with no bells and whistles in terms of costumes, lights or sets, On The Spot still succeeds in bringing laughter, charm and great vocal performances.
On The Spot currently runs every Monday at 8 p.m. at the Broadway Comedy Club (318 West 53rd Street) in Manhattan. For more information, call 212-757-2323 or visit onthespotnyc.com.