by Sam Maher
I feel like I renewed my vows to the Gods of Theater at the Flea Theater last night.
So far this year, I have seen around 150 shows. Syncing Ink will probably end up in the #1 spot for any sort of "Best Theater I Saw in 2017" list I create. It's everything theater can and should be: fresh, exciting, energetic, and irreverent.
In the lobby, cast members and hype women lead the young and hip crowd in a call and repeat: "Wave your hands in the air!" We do and shout back "Wave 'em like you just don' care..." Once we enter the space (after a brief -- and voluntary! -- dance party), we go on a lyrical voyage with Gordon, a nerdy and awkward student at Langston Hughes High School who is challenged to find the hip hop emcee deep inside himself. Playwright NSangou Njikam himself plays Gordon so well that you end up in a situation where you can't imagine anyone else playing the role à la Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dave Malloy. Best part? There are zero weak links in the rest of the cast as well. All 7 of these performers never cease to surprise with gifts of ridiculous comic timing, fly dance moves, and some of the best rapping ever done in a theatrical medium.
Photos: Joan Marcus
The costumes will make even the illest streetwear connoisseurs jealous and Niegel Smith's perfect direction borders on genius. This is theater with swagger. This is the kind of theater where the entire audience leaps to their feat before the lights even come up for the curtain call because we can't believe something this awesome exists.
Sold yet? Let me put it this way: There are literally zero people on Planet Earth who wouldn't love every single second of Syncing Ink. In fact, for many of us, it reminds us why we fell passionately, deeply, madly in love with theater in the first place.
Runs until October 29.
The Broadway musical recorded on film for optimal couch viewing!
There's a reason it won the 2017 Tony Award for Best Musical. It doesn't get fresher and more relevant than this!