“The Boob Show” – Phoenix Theatre

Theater Review – February 18, 2018


Phoenix Theatre, Hardes Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Sally Jo Bannow is a multi-talented local performer equally at home in plays or musicals.  In 2003, she confronted breast cancer that in 2015 led to a play with music about the situation.  “The Boob Show” needed polishing but it was a heartfelt and emotional story about how she tackled the cancer battle.

After reworking the piece with the help of Phoenix Theatre’s producing artistic director Michael Barnard, PT is premiering the revised show.  There’s hope that after the latest evolution, it might reach off-Broadway.

Originally, it was a very personal, very touching look at how Bannow dealt with her cancer.  The reworked version has been expanded to include lots of mediocre humor and exhaustive sections about how other women may handle a similar dilemma.  Because it is less personal and filled with sloppy humor, the once intimate show has transformed unsuccessfully into a razzle-dazzle entertainment.

Bannow now portrays multiple characters each with a different approach to her cancer.  We learn less about Bannow’s personal reactions and more about how various women approach the disease.  The show is disjointed as it moves from person-to-person with occasional interjections of Bannow’s reactions.  Pianist Craig Bohmler becomes a vaudevillian sideshow and not just an accompanist.  He detracts from Bannow’s story as he adds fun and games to the difficult medical diagnosis.  Cute projections cue impersonal and unnecessary antidotes.

The resulting show has become a complicated and clinical look at breast cancer.  By being less personal and due to its evolution into a glitzy musical, “The Boob Show” isn’t the best way to deal with the somber subject.  The show now seems draggy even though it isn’t two hours long.  The tender and touching moments have declined as widespread reactions by the multiple women turn it into a medical textbook examination of breast cancer instead of how Bannow handled her tragedy.

As a performer, Bannow is good throughout but the moments that most impact audiences are rushed and those quieter scenes that formerly gave audiences penetrating insight into Bannow’s struggles have become nothing more than mediocre entertainment.

I didn’t leave the revised “The Boob Show” as much affected as I was originally because it is now shallow and much less affecting as a personal statement about cancer and its impacts while failing as vibrant entertainment.  The show continues through March 18.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade:  C