Upon first hearing a brief synopsis of the plot, one might be reluctant to head over to the Westside Theater to see Voca People. Freakish-looking aliens trapped on planet Earth seeking musical energy to refuel their spaceship may not sound like the perfect recipe for an all-voice musical, though somehow these performers make the audience not only sympathize with their ship wreckage, but also sit through the entire 90 minute show with a smile on their faces.
The Voca people, as these aliens from planet Voca call themselves, are led by their militant captain, Beat On, and his assistant, Scratcher, who is the only Voca person who can communicate through the human’s language. They and the rest of their clan, unabashedly named after their respective voice parts, perform recognizable classics by artists such as ABBA, Queen, Spice Girls, and Frankie Valli (all of which, incidentally, are featured artists in jukebox musical). Medleys weren’t scarce either; themes included evolution, classical music, and famous works of cinema.
As one could probably predict within the first few minutes, audience involvement is integral to the evening’s entertainment. Not only does each member of the first row get invited to share their thoughts (literally: thoughts are translated into music by the Vocas), but audience members all around the theater are called upon to dance, sing, and be musical instruments as well.
Though the intimate setting of the Westside Theater worked well for these interactions, there were moments in which it felt that this show would be more appropriate as Las Vegas or cruise ship entertainment. With the exception of some genuinely heartfelt moments and a few jokes that hopefully went over childrens’ heads, the evening proved to be a fun time for all ages and all nationalities.
It is difficult to create concepts that are both original and credible. Voca People has created one that fulfils both of these requirements flawlessly. With their undisputable talent and dedication, there really isn’t any other experience quite like this one. At least… not in this world.
Voca People; Created & Directed by Lior Kalfo; Musical Direction & Arrangements by Shai Fishman; Westside Theatre/Upstairs, 407 W. 43rd St. & 9th Avenue; www.vocapeoplenyc.com.