Mighty Real OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Billy Coyle
  • NY TIMES

  • NY POST

  • HUFFPOST

  • TM

  • L&S AMERICA

Opening Night:
September 14, 2014
Closing:
October 5, 2014

Theater: Theatre at St. Clement's / 423 West 46th Street, New York, New York, 10036

Synopsis: 

Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical tells the life story of Sylvester through his music and his point of view. Beyond all the trials, tribulations, glitz and glamour of his lifestyle, he was a symbol for being FABULOUS, but, also, a symbol for unapologetically being who he was. The words and music of this show will enter your ear, soar through your heart and inspire your soul. It's GUARANTEED to have EVERYONE dancing in the aisles.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Mighty Real

    Exulting in His Fabulous Moment, a Spangled Disco Diva at Fever Pitch 'Mighty Real,' a Musical About the Pop Star Sylvester

    Charles Isherwood

    September 21, 2014: A disco ball the size of a small house twirls over the stage at the Theater at St. Clement’s, where Mighty Real, a slender but musically vibrant show about the androgynous pop star Sylvester, has audience members shaking their booties in their seats. There are two more disco balls, of slightly more modest size, shaking their own booties above the audience, speckling the auditorium with dizzying dots. Can a show about a pop-funk star in his prime whose songs “Do Ya Wanna Funk” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” remain standards of any disco-themed party night really have too many mirror balls? I think not. An assertion of Sylvester’s glamorous divadom, fated to fade too soon when he died of AIDS in 1988, drives this flimsy but glitter-drenched bio musical. The subtitle announces “Mighty Real” as “A Fabulous Sylvester Musical.” But fabulousness, like much else, is a subjective matter. And I can only second this subtitular self-endorsement when it comes to the musical portions of the show, which fortunately make up most of it.

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  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF Mighty Real

    Musical is the ‘Mighty Real’ deal for disco fans

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    September 21, 2014: Anybody who’s ever listened to WKTU, danced at a disco, marched in a gay-pride parade or watched Project Runway should get a ticket to Mighty Real. True, this new jukebox musical about Sylvester — the immortal voice of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Do You Wanna Funk?” — isn’t a great show. But it’s a fun one — and that’s rarer than you’d think. Let’s get the quibbles out of the way. Anthony Wayne, who stars and wrote the book, retraces Sylvester’s “journey of phenomenal heights and some interesting lows” from his birth in 1947 to his death from AIDS in 1988. In between we’re given some perfunctory biographical references and a lot of earnest sentiment about battling adversity and finding one’s true self. Sylvester’s infamous backup singers, Izora Armstead (Anastacia McCleskey) and Martha Wash (Jacqueline B. Arnold) — later known as the Weather Girls, of “It’s Raining Men” fame — get a welcome nod, especially when the three launch into a crazy diva battle on “You Are My Friend.”

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF Mighty Real

    'Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical' Celebrates The Life Of An Out And Proud Disco Legend

    Curtis M. Wong

    September 15, 2014: Depicting the glitzy yet all-too-brief life of disco’s most legendary out performer, Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical is giving Manhattan theatergoers new incentive to dust off their boogie shoes. The off-Broadway musical, which opened Sept. 12, begins with a simple premise: Sylvester, who died in 1988 at the age of 41, returns from beyond the grave to New York’s Theatre at St. Clement's, where he'll perform one final concert in the present day. "I had so much to say," the late star (played by Broadway veteran Anthony Wayne) notes at the show's outset, "and not enough time to say it." Ninety minutes of the grooviest, gutsiest and fiercest disco anthems anyone with a taste for mirrorball nostalgia will appreciate soon follow. From the moment he appears in a sequined top, platform heels and a floor-length fur coat, Wayne embodies the starring role with a boulder-crunching zeal that echoes Hugh Jackman's Tony-winning turn as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Mighty Real

    The Queen of Disco holds an audience in Hell's Kitchen

    Zachary Stewart

    September 14, 2014: There's a disco revival going on at the Theatre at St. Clement's, far holier and more charismatic than anything else you're likely to find in New York City. Anthony Wayne, Kendrell Bowman, and the cast of Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical will take you to church with this high-energy tribute to the late Queen of Disco, Sylvester, a performer with a voice as towering as his stiletto heels. The chart-topping artist behind such dance hits as "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" (1978) and "Do You Wanna Funk" (1981), Sylvester was way ahead of his time: an openly gay black man with a habit of wearing women's clothing. He was a true original. While Sylvester died in 1988 (at the untimely age of 41), this show brings his music roaring back to life, with only the mildest of unfortunate interruptions. Mighty Real takes the form of a Sylvester concert from beyond the grave. "I had so much to say and not enough time to say it," a ghostly voice tells us before the music starts. The stage is bare except for a five-member band, four backup singers, and a central staircase that leads backstage. A giant glittering "Sylvester" sign hangs overhead alongside a mirror ball.

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  • LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA REVIEW OF Mighty Real

    Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical (Theatre at St. Clement's)

    David Barbour

    September 15, 2014: The procession of inside-the-music jukebox tuners continues with Mighty Real, which covers the life of Sylvester, the androgynous disco diva who made his mark on the '70s music scene with such hits as "Can't Stop Dancing," "Do You Wanna Funk," and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." I once wrote that in the future, every book and film would become a musical. I now extend this to include every catalog of pop music. Whether this one will be of interest to anyone beyond hardcore Sylvester fans is open to question, however. As show business sagas go, Sylvester's life follows a fairly standard rise-and-fall scenario. Born into poverty in South Central Los Angeles, Sylvester James, Jr. fell in love with music at Sunday Pentecostal services, but at an early age it became obvious that his life was headed in another direction. He reportedly entered into his first sexual relationship, with a member of the congregation, at the age of eight -- interestingly, Mighty Real portrays this episode as molestation, although Sylvester always maintained it was consensual -- and, by the time he was 14, he was on his own and homeless. He became a member of the Disquotays, a group of Los Angeles-based cross-dressers best known for their elaborate house parties. (Interestingly, they were taken up for a time by Etta James.)

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