On Friday night, Off Broadway On Campus presented “Where’s OBOC?,” a collection of vignettes and tracks from countless other stage shows, performed live in Strong Auditorium. I had never been to an OBOC show before — the only on-campus drama I’d seen at Rochester before was last year’s performance of “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” in Drama House — so I didn’t exactly know what to expect.
What I got was an often charming, just-under two-hour display (including intermission) of theater music, scattered across genres, performed by a huge number of dedicated UR students. The minimal staging, with almost no set pieces and a heavy focus on lighting and (sometimes) costume, worked best for the touching, emotional, often very funny solo and duet performances.
Senior Michael Sklar stood out in every piece he played in, but especially the hilarious and brutal l “Michael in the Bathroom,” the strongest performance of the first act. Junior Noah Pines and Junior Mary Potash were fantastic in “All Alone,” and senior Noah Leibowitz absolutely sold everything about “Purpose.”
Mic troubles, unfortunately, plagued the first act. From my seat in the mid-back of Strong’s lower level, I could barely make out a lot of what was being sung (“Michael” was, thankfully, spared from the technical difficulties), and the orchestra often overpowered the vocals. By the time intermission was over, however, ECM and the OBOC crew had managed to fix whatever was causing the issue, and the second act was almost entirely problem-free.
The limited staging put the performers into full focus. Of course, the solos and duets benefitted the most from this arrangement. The dynamic in “All Alone”, for example, was hysterical because of Pines’s and Potash’s body language, clever use of just a few carefully chosen props, and the way the production played with where everyone was on stage, using the minimal set design to its advantage.
The group pieces, especially those that were for large numbers of players, were always fun but sometimes felt cluttered. It was difficult to make out the words at times, especially during the first act when the mics were acting up. Of course, this doesn’t mean quality ensemble performances were absent from “Where’s OBOC?.”
“Forget About The Boy” was great and lighthearted with smart costume work and talented performers. My favorite Broadway show is “Dear Evan Hansen,” and when I realized that the show’s finale would be “You Will Be Found” I was excited to see what OBOC would do with it. I was thrilled with the triumphant group number they came up with for it.
Overall, “Where’s OBOC?” was a hit, at least for me. If you have six bucks to spare (eight at the door), the next show will be well worth the price of admission if it’s anything like this one.