Movin’ Melvin Brown: A Man, A Magic, A Music! is a unique opportunity to see a performer from the golden age of rock ‘n roll who has honed his gifts over the years. Even though he turns 72 this year, Melvin Brown still sings and dances his way through this one-man cabaret in a performance that is truly impressive.
MMB:MMM! moves through Brown’s life story growing up in an America where new music/dance styles like rock and new technologies like television were changing entertainment, and social attitudes towards racial minorities were (gradually) changing. The autobiographical element is intertwined with hit songs from the time that either have some dramatic relevance to the story or just happened to be massive hits (see: the Twist). The story and songs are mostly limited to the ‘50s and ‘60s, though there is a great section towards the end where Brown talks about his experiences as a pioneer in the field of male striptease (warning: there is audience participation in this segment) in the ‘70s.
As with all autobiographical shows, the story wanders a bit, especially towards the end. Since the earlier part of the show focuses on Brown’s development as a entertainer, the latter part – when he’s become somewhat established – feels like it’s missing tension. That’s not really the attraction though; the main focus here is definitely on the singing and dancing. Brown’s singing is impressive, still hitting some impressive high notes (and there are quite a few in his selections). The dancing, though, is what really makes this show – despite having learned to tap fairly late in life, Brown goes through some extended sequences that, if like me you’re a closet tap fan, will make you clap your hands in delight. The 80-minute length of the show does make it feel like some narrative digressions or songs could be cut without adversely affecting the flow. Given that this is one of the few times that you can see someone at Fringe who has performed with Lionel Richie and the Commodores, and Brown’s undeniable talents, the looseness towards the end is more than made up for.
Movin’ Melvin Brown is a fun addition to the Fringe line-up that while not challenging is certainly entertaining. Just you try not to tap your toes or sing along at times.
Created and Performed by Melvin Brown
At ODD Box (Venue 4)
Running Time: approx. 80 minutes
Tuesday 13 June 8:30pm
Wednesday 14 June 10:30pm
Thursday 15 June 9:00pm
Friday 16 June 6:00pm
Saturday 17 June 2:00pm