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Night Clubs Reviews
Feb 1, 2009 - The fabulously inventive Toxic Audio holds forth at Reno's Eldorado Hotel Casino
By Jack Neal
The five singers who give “Toxic Audio” its voice are clever, talented, charming and aim to please. This fabulous group of five are playing the showroom at Reno’s Eldorado Hotel Casino through February 22 (2009).
For the uninitiated, “Toxic Audio” is an a cappella vocal ensemble who comes close to sounding like a full orchestra, or most anything else, and do all that they do with only the shrewd use of their own voices. Shalisa James, Michelle Mailhot-Valines are the female members of the group. Jeremy James, Paul Sperrazza, Geoff Castellucci are “Toxic’s” male contingent.
“Toxic Audio” got its start in Orlando, Florida, at the International Fringe Festival. It was an over-night sensation. Then it was on to a gig at the Disney/MGM studios. Winning “Album of the Year” from the Acappella Society of America for its 2003 “Chemistry” CD, “Toxic Audio” shifted operations to New York’s off-Broadway John Houseman Theatre where it won the 2004 Drama Desk Award for “Unique Theatrical Experience.”
“Toxic Audio” is, indeed, unique, and – nonstop.
There are lots of shenanigans in the show’s 75-minute running time, and Paul Sperrazza is the group’s point man for funny business. Sperrazza makes points with an attractive young woman from the audience by playing, on a turntable (How’s that for an old-world term?), an LP of “I’m in the Mood for Love.” It skips, it slows, it speeds up, while the rubber faced, and elastic voiced, Mr. Sperrazza gets loads of laughs. It’s the show’s comic highlight.
Singing “Autumn Leaves,” Michelle Mailhot-Valines does an around-the- world-with-languages send up in enough different tongues to impress even the most gifted of UN interpreters. It’s fun and a great gag routine. Musical chairs gets a run for its money as does “Dancing Queen.” And so it goes for one astonishingly inventive manipulation-of-voice routine after another.
“Toxic Audio” is an exceptionally creative concept played out by a most virtuoso group of sound-managing vocalists. The audience loved what it heard and rewarded their efforts with sustained applause and a standing ovation.
Entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr. once made a comment that’s appropriate for this particular review of “Toxic Audio.” “If people come to see my show,” Davis said, “and I don’t do what I do well, that’s my problem. If they come to see my show and I do what I do well, but they don’t like what I do – that’s their problem.”
My problem with “Toxic Audio” is that I don’t find it interesting enough on a continuing basis to sustain a 75-minute nightclub act in a major casino showroom. Clearly, my view is a minority view.
“Toxic Audio” can be experienced at the Eldorado Hotel Casino, 345 North Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada, through February 22 (2009). For information call 775-786-5700, or 800-648-5966, or go on line at eldoradoreno.com.
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