Theater Spotlight: Toyota!

courtesy of the Brave New Workshop

The Brave New Workshop's summer show is a solid and consistently funny collection of sketches (very) loosely tied together by the theme of Toyotas that can't stop. In one, a father (Josh Eakright) is distracted in his lethal predicament by his daughter (Lauren Anderson) singing along to sexy-time music on the car radio. In the other, a couple who have plunged headlong into romance (Ellie Hino and Bobby Gardner) quickly discover under duress that they actually find each other loathsome and annoying (Hino takes a star turn serenading her onetime crush with a tune about wishing she had herpes, so that she could have passed it on to lover boy). Katy McEwen also performs, as well as tackling director's chores, and it's a pleasure to see her acerbic, incisive comic timing return to the BNW stage. One thing Toyota! is not, though, is a musical. Though each sketch contains some sort of song component, the production leaves potential on the table in terms of what it might have been if the show had lived up to its own billing (I actually walked in the door hoping to see this group's warped sensibilities matched to the conventions of the musical—that is, a narrative arc in which characters inexplicably burst into song). It's pointless to criticize a duck for quacking, though, and once I settled in to the notion that this was the latest BNW sketch collection, and not the Sondheim send-up I had wished for, I just relaxed and laughed as much as usual. Gardner (convincingly) filled the absent Joe Bozic's shoes as resident awkward lecher in an audience-participation number, and Eakright unleashed his inner Satan in a sequence about a Christian garage band. This time out, it felt as though Anderson wasn't given enough spots to apply her brand of unhinged charm, though Hino continues to lurk as the sweetheart eager to say the most awful things with aplomb. This one is pretty much business as usual, which is largely a good thing. $25-$29; 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturdays except June 20-July 3; Brave New Workshop, 2605 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.6620. Through August 14

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