I remember when Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan first came into the MPR studios to talk about their production “Trick Boxing.” It was 2002, and the piece was debuting at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. It’s a love story of sorts that involves high precision dancing and boxing moves all wrapped up with old showbiz charm.
Since then the show has gone on to tour internationally at fringe festivals to rave reviews. Now, on the production’s tenth anniversary, the duo have expanded the show for a run at the Guthrie Theater.
According to three reviewers the show is still a knockout, while a third says there are a few missteps.
The boxing scenes are a riot, with Sostek leading the play-by-play using a miniature ring and toys representing Dancing Danny and his opponents, including Johnny the Monkey. These, like so many other moments in “Trick Boxing,” prove that some of the best performances come from artists who need rely on nothing more than their talent and a few simple props to create whole worlds on stage. Both McClellan and Sostek are the undisputed champs in this category.
As in Astaire-Rogers classics like “The Gay Divorcee” and “Top Hat,” the leads start out somewhat adversarial, but love blooms on the dance floor where they blend ballroom, swing and tap into a delicious vintage concoction.
Those Astaire-Rogers vehicles often featured a moment that — after an amazing dance duet — Rogers sat stunned and confused while recognizing that she’s unexpectedly falling in love.
“Trick Boxing” is the kind of show that could leave you feeling the same way.
Trick Boxing’s earned acclaim at every stop of its 10-year run, and for good reason. It’s impossible to resist the feel-good brand of dance and humor, drama and love that this talented couple pours into their production.
Whatever the reason, Trick Boxing trudges along at the beginning when it should already be singing. That doesn’t make this a poor experience in any way. The dancing, movement, and puppetry are delightful, as is the central relationship between Danny and Bella, which comes to life in the hands of these performers. It’s clear what has made this play a success for the last decade. I just hope the special spark doesn’t get lost amid the revisions.
Have you seen “Trick Boxing?” If so, what did you think?