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LEFFLER: Patchwork's 'Trainwreck' a delight to experience

NIAGARA FALLS -- As I sat in Patchwork Theatre Friday night waiting for their adaptation of Trainwreck to begin, I had no idea what I was in for.

Here's what I did know:

  • It was to be a musical, based on the album "Trainwreck" by Boys Night Out. 
  • It was adapted for the stage by Billy Horn and directed by Rosemarie Lorenti.
  • It was making its second run following sold-out shows and rave reviews the first time around. 
  • I'm a fan of community theater and an even bigger fan of Billy and Rosie's band, "Billy Draws 2." 

All that said, I had absolutely zero familiarity with Boys Night Out, let alone their concept album (dare I say rock opera?), Trainwreck.

I don't want to offer any spoilers but the basic premise is that a man (The Husband) murdered his wife (The Wife) in his sleep, thereby landing himself in an asylum where a doctor (The Doctor) attempts to treat him. Friday night, Horn played the role of The Husband, while Lorenti played The Wife.

One of the dangers of community theater is knowing the cast outside their stage roles. It requires the cast to shed their "real selves" while on stage and engulf themselves in their part. When Horn had to apologize to the audience before the show a late start -- another event at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center was letting out as Trainwreck was supposed to start, delaying patrons from their seats -- he even joked about breaking the third wall. But once the lights came down and the show started, he slid out of his "Billy" self and into "The Husband" quite well. Likewise, Rosie became "The Wife" with ease, although I wished she had been just a little louder at times, particularly when she was facing away from me.

For me, The Doctor, played by Paul Leonard Gadawski stole the show. Truth be told, I have a hard time now thinking that he could ever be anything but a doctor, although his bio in the program says that he's played many other roles in Patchwork productions, as well as Actors Anonymous Theatre Company. I will make it a point to see another production he's in.

The cast also includes "The Kill," "The Evidence," "The Defense," and "The Machinist," with each decked out in all black and playing different sub-roles throughout the production. The all-black wardrobes was a pretty decent metaphor for the show itself. It was minimalism in its finest, as community theater productions are often required to be.

There were a few lines that I found jarring, but they were designed to be so. And one line I found funny: "I dialed 911 a long time ago. Can't you see how late they reacted?" I'm not sure if it was written as momentary comic relief but a line lifted verbatim from Public Enemy's "911 is a Joke" is going to get a rise of out me. Whether anyone else in the 40-seat theater realized it, I have no idea.

In short (too late?), I found the entire production to be brilliant. It literally left me wanting more. I was quite pleased to find when I returned home that the album was available on Amazon Unlimited Music. As I listened for comparative purposes, I was kind of surprised to see how closely the play had followed the album itself.

There are six more performances set for Patchwork's Trainwreck, to be held at 9 p.m. each of the remaining Fridays and Saturdays in August. If you are familiar with Boys Night Out, go see what a great job Patchwork has done with its visual re-creation of their album. If you aren't familiar with Boys Night Out, go see a great play put on by a great cast ... and maybe learn that you like a new band, too.

Scott Leffler is editor of All WNY News and program director of All WNY Radio. All WNY News & Radio is a proud sponsor of Patchwork Theatre. 

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