Orlando Fringe 2017 review: 'Chase Padgett: Five Stars'

Nashville Hurricane and 6 Guitars, the shows that launched Chase Padgett's success on the touring circuit, were both birthed in Orlando, so it's appropriate that the award-winning performer returned to our Festival for the world premiere of Five Stars, his first new solo show in four years. Unlike his previous productions, in which he skillfully portrayed a multiplicity of personas, this show is all Chase, all the time. Without fictional characters to hide behind, Padgett exposes himself through personal stories about relationships, drugs and science, pairing each autobiographical anecdote with a witty original song.

The stories range from crudely outrageous to keenly observed, often within the same tale. Much of the show is laugh-out-loud funny, but being robbed by a teenage neighbor leads Chase to an empathetic epiphany that is unexpected and enlightening. Padgett's bluesy guitar playing is a virtuoso as ever, his blisteringly fast rapping would leave Lin-Manuel Miranda tongue-tied, and impressively integrates improvisation and technology by building a self-accompanied song using a looping digital machine.

Padgett concludes the show with a stark rendition of "Change Gonna Come" that serves as a somber but hopeful reminder that "as bad as things are now, they used to be a lot worse." As a brand-new work, this show still has a few bugs to work out; there's no connective throughline, and the pacing needs some polishing. But I have faith that it won't be long before Chase's latest is winning real five-star reviews across the continent.

Chase Padgett: Five Stars
Silver Venue
Wednesday, May 24, 7:00 PM
Thursday, May 25, 10:45 PM
Saturday, May 27, 8:45 PM
Sunday, May 28, 7:00 PM


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