PAC’ing the Bomb

Performing arts centers would certainly like to reach out to new audiences but there appears to be trepidation toward booking programs with an urban element.

But one show, “The Bomb-itty Of Errors,” tries to bridge that gap, though it’s a tough sell. When it was an off-Broadway show, “Bomb-itty” got glowing reviews from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others. It also received big thumbs up during stays in Chicago and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Still, a hip-hop version of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” – itself one of the bard’s most intricate plays – has to win over the PACs.

The show is produced by President Street Productions’ Lou Viola and Mary Lu Roffe, with CAMI Theatricals as booking agent. Viola – a veteran of Agency For The Performing Arts – said the average PAC audience is the same as 20 years ago.

“The PACs will tell you, either on or off the record, that they need to start attracting the younger demographic,” Viola told Pollstar. “The problem they face is finding a hip-hop show that’s non-threatening, won’t drive away their existing audience, yet still has hip-hop legitimacy and street cred.”

The story of two sets of identical twins, stuck in a classic case of mistaken identity, can be overwhelming. But with its rap lyrics, “Bomb-itty” gives the audience a fun distraction from the complex plot line.

The show reportedly tears through the play at a breakneck pace, at least lyric-wise. The prologue includes rhymes like “One to the two, the three, the four / His heart skipped a beat and he almost hit the floor / There were two sets of identical twins all at once / Two big healthy boys and two little runts.”

Etcetera, etcetera. There’s probably about 5 million words spoken during the play. A trial run is heading out in October, visiting Pembroke, N.C.; Charlottesville, Va.; and Macon, Ga.