The fast-paced and energetic “Push the Button” is making its world premiere at the Keegan Theatre. The hip-hop musical emerged from Keegan’s Boiler Room Series, an incubator for works by new artists. It has heart and promise…
The simple story, which clocks in at just one hour, revolves around two superhero movie archetypes and a supposedly heinous crime. Hero, played with charm and smarm by Quincy Vicks, calls to mind the egomaniacal Homelander from the comic book and TV series “The Boys” (Hero is less murder-y but just as messianic). He is countered by Villain, a merry prankster played with delightful camp by Tre’mon Mills in the style of Cesar Romero and Burgess Meredith from the old “Batman” TV series. (His costume by Imari Pyles is spot on.)
Villain freely and proudly admits to a wide array of offenses, but not the one for which he has been arrested: pushing the button, the ultimate crime in the show’s unnamed city. He has an ally in Ashanti Symone Branch’s Journalist, but Gary DuBreuil’s Judge is only interested in how the high-profile trial might make him a star.
The characters’ backstories and motives are revealed through a half-dozen musical numbers that sample and parody Lil’ Uzi Vert, Billie Eilish, Cardi B, and others. (Yes, this show about whether someone pushed it does sample “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa.) These numbers are great, as is the choreography by Branch.
In fact, everything that everyone is doing on stage is quite good, as are the sets by Cindy Landrum Jacobs and Matthew J. Keenan and the comic book-style projections by Zavier Augustus Lee Taylor. Director Duane Richards II has done a fine job with the material.
[“Push the Button”] is fun, colorful, and full of sound and motion… Several attendees at the premiere were young adults and even younger children, indicating that the writers intended for “Push the Button” to be a young adult piece. (It’s strictly PG, with nary a swear nor an innuendo.) It’s the sort of short, eye-catching, modern theatre piece that could capture the imagination of the next generation of audiences.