Chase Padgett bills his "Nashville Hurricane" as "all-new," and it's the truth. He could just have accurately labeled it "all-new and improved," for this is a much more cohesive — and enjoyable — show than the original version, which debuted at the 2012 Fringe Festival.
"The All-New Nashville Hurricane," for one, is less bloated — 15 minutes and whole characters have disappeared. But the biggest and most welcome difference is that this story of a shy boy who becomes a country-music superstar has found its heart.
The boy, nicknamed the "Nashville Hurricane," is now a much more prominent player in the tale. And the most interesting character from the original, Nashville's white-trash Mama, has kept her quirks but morphed into someone the audience can sympathize — a little — with, even while laughing at her.
Padgett plays all of the characters in the show, and fans of his "6 Guitars" will be glad to hear he also plays guitar (very well). His Nashville, despite his talents, is socially awkward. Yet his mama pushes him into show business, where an unscrupulous talent scout takes control of his destiny.
The characters are sharply etched, very funny, and most important, engaging — even that slimy talent scout. A particular treat for "6 Guitars" fans is the appearance of the elderly bluesman from that hit show. He adds another layer of warmth to "Nashville Hurricane," and complements the other characters beautifully.
"Nashville Hurricane" employs the same techniques that made "6 Guitars" a success — Padgett's distinct characterizations, his ability to break the fourth wall and connect with an audience, his high-quality musical interludes. The script, written with Jay Hopkins, finds personality-based humor, not just punchlines.
Yet "Nashville Hurricane" is no "6 Guitars" knockoff. It stands on its own as hugely entertaining and smart storytelling. As Nashville himself is prone to say, "Eureka!"
Details: Orange venue, 75 minutes, 13+, $11
• May 16, 8:45 p.m.
• May 17, 4:30 p.m.
• May 18, 12:30 p.m.
• May 20, 6:30 p.m.
• May 22, 10 p.m.
• May 24, 7 p.m.
• May 25, 3:15 p.m.Copyright © 2015, CT Now