The Keegan Theatre’s world premiere of new show Push the Button is a short musical comedy written by Drew Anderson and Dwayne Lawson-Brown (the duo behind From Gumbo to Mumbo) that illustrates the difficulties society faces in terms of morals and stereotypes through a comic book-style production. This fun and lighthearted musical features the classic Hero (played by Quincy Vicks) and Villain (played by Tre’mon Kentrell Mills), as well as a Journalist (played by Ashanti Symone Branch) who challenges the truth of who really pushed the button. Are we right to assume Villain did it? Or is there the bigger question of morality to face?
With a small cast of just seven people, this show came alive with the energy and excitement that radiated from this group. In a show that is aimed for all ages, it can be difficult for the content to reach everyone in the audience, but the clever writing and acting choices completed by this team successfully kept everyone engaged and entertained. It was clear that everyone on stage was having just as much fun, if not even more fun, than those in the audience. I enjoyed seeing each actor bring their character(s) alive, bringing in animated comic-style aspects to their roles, while also incorporating bits of their own personality.
An additional aspect that really added to this production was the tech. From lighting, to projections, to sounds, all the more fun was incorporated into the show. Lighting, designed by Alberto Segarra, was specific to each vibe of the characters and the scenes, reeling in your attention and making it very indicative of the mood, as well as very visually enjoyable. Projections, designed by Zavier Augustus Lee Taylor, elevated the show in a new and unique way. As theatre evolves, projections have made their way into a major role for many popular shows. This design was very well thought out and contributed to the comic-style setting of this production, making it feel as if you were watching a cartoon while witnessing the story unfold live.
Sound, designed by Thom J. Woodward and engineered by Lorna Ryan, tied the whole thing together making it seem like we were in a cartoon. Not only were onomatopoeias cleverly incorporated into the action of the show, the music also played a huge role. Sampling scores from well-known hip-hip songs was very entertaining and interesting to have in this production. It was great to see the audience interact with the music throughout the show, since it was easy to follow along, and fun to get into.
The creative genius of Drew Anderson and Dwayne Lawson-Brown to parody songs like “Up” by Cardi B and “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish shows their dedication to making the show enjoyable for all, and highlights their ingenuity as well as their personalities throughout the music selection. This was such a great way to make an important theme translate easily and admirably to the audience.
Learning to question what you believe to be morally right and wrong is something I think we all need a little bit of. As well as thinking through some unconscious biases or stereotypes that you may have. Another thing we learned from Journalist at the end of the show is that you can use your “powers” to be a hero every day. Simple acts of kindness can make a huge difference, and we all need a reminder of that every now and then.