BOTTOM LINE: infectiously happy. For a good time, call Minimum Wage.
In a feat rarely seen, Minimum Wage is entirely original and entirely entertaining. It's not every day that a brand-new concept unearths itself and actually works. And Minimum Wage accomplishes that with quite a bit of success. Here's the schtick: the audience takes on the role of "new hires in training" at Happy Burger, a McDonald's-esque fast food chain. The cast of five are Happy Burger employees who are teaching the new hires all about the fast food world...they are also singers who have an acapella group that they are taking on the road to a competition immediately after the training. So as the Happy Burger employees take over the training (because communication with the higher-ups is shorted) much of it is sung and performed more ostentatiously by these caricatured burger boys (and girl).
Because of the nature of the show, the audience is an intregal part and there's a large amount of audience interaction. If you don't want to participate, don't sit too close. Although I'm normally not a huge fan of fourth-wall-breaking, it really worked for me with this play because it personalizes the story; it's not just a passive theatre experience. It made me feel a stronger connection with the characters and it definitely helped ground a rather goofy piece.
Minimum Wage is charming in its sincerity because the characters couldn't be more endearing. Although it's silly and even ridiculous at times, it has a ton of heart and there's actually a much deeper message to it all. Throughout the play, the characters reveal their insecurities and past failures and eventually their fear about the upcoming acapella competition. After a pep talk from the group's leader, though, they realize that they have to go after their dreams. The message isn't meant to be hidden and you definitely leave with a sense of empowerment (and these catchy lyrics in your head: "you gotta grab life by the balls, hold tight never let go, I'm busy hold all my calls, I'm stepping into the light.") Despite the thick layers of absurdity, the true message remains crystal clear.
So on top of it all, you have a really friggin' talented cast who can sing as well as anyone on any stage in New York. And the best part is, there isn't a back-up band. It's literally acapella. With some crazy beat-boxing and beautiful harmonizing, there's no need for instruments. For the sake of the talent alone, Minimum Wage is worth seeing.
If you like musicals, and/or you like quirky theatre, you'll probably love Minimum Wage. If you're in the mood for an original theatrical experience with a stellar cast, you'll probably love it as well. And if you're just feeling down and want something to boost your spirits, Minimum Wage is cheaper than a shrink and won't give you a beer belly.
(Minimum Wage plays at the The Green Room at 45 Bleecker...Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday at 10:30pm...get tickets at telecharge.com)