It’s fair to say that “Invisible Heroes,” the hereandnow theatre company’s self-generated collection of songs, sketches, dance and monologues, does have some good things going for it. There is honesty and sincerity in the company’s material, and that much is commendable. To be very honest though, what is on display here is, unfortunately, not much above what you might expect to see at a high school for the performing arts.
Out of the 21-member troupe, Jason Rogel is a genuinely watchable, funny standout as a chubby, geeky and second-coming of Christ at a bus stop in a sketch by Ricky Pak. What’s most surprising though, is that the company’s greatest asset is also their least-utilized one. There are some fine singing voices in this ensemble, displayed beautifully in an intricate acapella chorale in a piece called “Something New” by Sandy Yu, and then later in a whimsical, wistful sketch called “The King and Me,” in which the performers (many of whom are Asian) allow themselves the chance to sing the songs they’d love to sing if only they could break out of endless revivals of “The King and I” and get cast in “Wicked.” It is a well-timed commentary on the sort of racial stereotyping that modern theatre still hasn’t quite managed to shake itself of.
Under John Miyasaki’s direction, the production’s overarching earnestness starts to lean toward “Waiting for Guffman”-like involuntary comedy. Their sincerity cannot be doubted though, and theirs are voices worth hearing.
“Invisible Heroes” performs Thursday-Sunday until June 28th at the Studio/Stage (520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles 90004). Tickets are $20. For half-price tickets, go to www.goldstar.com. For more information, visit www.hereandnowtheatrecompany.com or call (626) 375-5219.