Review: A Boy and His Soul

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Boy, do I feel Coleman Domingo! A Boy and His Soul is an autobiographical one-man show, but it escapes almost every single pitfall of that genre. Domingo views his own story through the life-giving lens of soul music (which I love very nearly as much as he does), imbuing that story with a glowing, rich texture and warmth.

We’re not talking just one genre of soul music, either, but the whole gamut of R&B music from Aretha to “quiet storm” to orchestral disco to synthesized funk. If any one style predominates, it’s Philly soul, created in Coleman’s hometown of Philadelphia. It’s almost as though the piece is more about the music, with his personal story as a subplot, a very refreshing angle.

Director Tony Kelly founded a theatre company in San Francisco called Thick Description, and the thickness of the details in A Boy and His Soul contribute mightily to the show’s appeal. Domingo paints very specific pictures with very specific soundtracks, which makes his stories crackle with vivid life and humor.

I really identify with the joy Domingo expresses as he thumbs through cartons of soul LPs, that rush of memory, of pure energy. A Boy and His Soul is also, in part, a coming out story, and Domingo’s use of Teddy Pendergrass’s “You Can’t Hide From Yourself” gives that story a touch of profundity even as “The Hustle” and “I’m Coming Out” bring out its campy highlights.

I’m a great believer in the power of music to tell stories that words can’t fully express, and of dance (or hell, any kind of movement) to add even more dimension.  A Boy and His Soul is packed so full of that power that it positively vibrates, making it one of the most deeply pleasurable experiences I’ve had in the theatre.

For tickets, click here.

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