RIDE OR DIE: THE HIP-HOP MUSICAL
I said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
To the hip hip hop and you don’t stop
The rock it to the bang bang boogie
Say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
Sugar Hill’s classic Rapper’s Delight (1979)
Ride or Die is a touching, laugh-out-loud amusing musical journey of one friend looking out for the other. Ride or die isn’t just a new word in the lexicon in hip-hop. It means you look out for each other, no matter what. You will be there in bad times along with the good. It’s you staying with someone who has nowhere else to go. You either ride or die.
Elliott (John ‘JT’ Tucker Jr. from Born This Way on A&E) looking out for his lifelong friend Michael (Domonique Brown from the Netflix series Atypical). Their personalities are so different, Elliott is overtly confident and in your face whereas Michael prefers the back seat. The dynamic duo make it work. The relationship is severely tested when Elliott suddenly dies. He’s not happy to find out, like Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life, he has to perform an unselfish deed in order to get his wings and be admitted inside God’s house. Elliott isn’t having this. But, he has no choice. He must find a new best friend so Michael won’t be lonely and get into God’s graces.
After a few rough spots, Elliott finds the one. The search begins with fast talking Harry, (Coby Bird) according to Elliott, Harry as in Potter and Styles. Harry does need a Xanax or two but he’s rapping skills are on point. Then there’s attitude-from-the-floor-up Nicki, (Stanson Chung is hilarious!) He would send you crying with this witty retorts and brusque demeanor. Elliott quickly checks him off the pending list. Next up is seemingly shy Ciara (Spencer Harte has a recurring role on Atypical) until she opens her mouth. She’s a firecracker popping out some smooth and wicked sayings. Elliott “guides” Ciara and Michael together. A few more missteps and the two soon find themselves as besties. Just like Clarence, Elliott gets his wings. Only, he’s dressed better than Clarence, wearing a vanilla cream suit with tie and wings. Elliott is on his way.
The master of beatboxing, Shaun Fisher, does a miraculous job in moving the story along with his expert vocal gift. He along with director Kelsey Goeres and talented writer, lyricist and composer Conor Hanney, are the ideal tri-fecta group in developing and executing a fun show with heart and meaning. The songs, the raps, the beat boxing and the actors all melt into a taste worthy concoction of richness and finesse. Hip-hop hooray!
Ride or Die: The Hip-Hop Musical plays Saturday, June 22nd at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 23rd at 2 p.m. at the Broadwater/Black Box, located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles. For information, log on to www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5881. Running time is 55 minutes. Ticket price is $15.