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Asolo Scores Funny Pop- Rock Hit with Hero: The Musical


SARASOTA – The Asolo Rep’s production of Aaron Thielen’s Hero: The Musical will keep you tapping your toes all night long. Directed and choreographed by David H. Bell, the play is filled with numerous pop-rock numbers sung by cast members who are as lively as the music.

Brian Sears
Photo by Gary W. Sweetman

The play starts with Hero Batowski, the main character, starting his day and heading to the comic book store where he works. The opening song, My Superhero Life, sets the tempo with an upbeat 80’s rock sound. Michael Mahler is the play’s composer and lyricist.

Hero: The Musical is more than just a play about a young man pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a comic book artist. Hero, played by Broadway actor Brian Sears, finds it difficult to move on after a painful loss 10 years earlier. Now 28, he still struggles with forgiving himself and the loved ones that he felt abandoned him during that difficult time. Hero helps run a comic book store with his dad Al, played by Don Fortson, who originated the role in the world premiere of Hero in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

Ironically, Hero lives a pretty boring life, given the fact that he spends most of his time in a comic bookstore, sketching extraordinary characters throughout the day. What Hero lacks is the self-awareness to know what his name actually means. Like all superheroes, he has a kryptonite and with the help of his friends and family, Hero finds his inner strength to overcome his crippling past.

Laurie Veldheer
Photo by Gary W. Sweetman

The majority of the cast’s vocals were fairly average on an individual basis, but their harmonies meshed quite well as a choir. Laurie Veldheer, who played Jane, stood out with impressive vocals during her solos. The actress, who also played Sophie in Mamma Mia! on Broadway, was charming in her role as Hero’s ex-girlfriend who returns home after 10 years.

The play’s comic relief comes courtesy of three excellent standouts. Susan, played by a very funny Dara Cameron, was quite convincing as a stiff and socially awkward co-worker to Jane. Her interactions with another standout, Kirk, played by Matt Mueller, were some of the play’s funniest moments.

On the surface, Susan and Kirk didn’t seem to have much in common. Cameron has a strong resemblance to actress Tina Fey and Mueller reminds you of one of those guys that everyone has partied with at least once during college.

Nate, played by Owen Teague, the play’s youngest character, was hilarious as Hero’s cousin and Kirk’s younger brother. His relationship with his uncle Al was more like father and son with the old school/new school dynamic. The flirtatious Nate thought he knew it all and Al always let him know that he didn’t know much at all.

Scott Davis's set is quite an impressive spectacle. One of the elements that really wowed the audience was the revolving stage. As the scenes changed, the stage would rotate to one of the three main settings: the comic bookstore, the bar, and Hero’s home. The stage was a character in itself and became one of the most memorable components of the night. Watching the sets change with little presence from the stage hands was quite refreshing, and one hopes such will become the standard in the future of theater.

If you’re a fan of musical theater, Hero: The Musical won't disappoint. It’s filled with lots of laughs and songs that will keep your feet tapping all the way home. Hero runs through June 1. Visit the Asolo Rep website for tickets and showtimes.

Back: Don Forston; Front: (L to R) Norm Boucher, Ian Paul Custer and Owen Teague
Photo by Gary W. Sweetman
(L to R) Matthew Mueller, Dara Cameron, Laurie Veldheer, Don Forston and Brian Sears
Photo by Gary W. Sweetman


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