"A Great Black Musical" it wasn't, but the 1982 Slick Show at the Warner Theatre last night was a clever showcase for numerous young and talented singers masquerading as the stars of '50s and '60s soul music. What "Grease" was to rock 'n' roll, Slick is to soul--some of the time, that is.
In truth, Slick is more of a revue than a musical. The staging is spare, the costumes routine, the dancing minimum, the story line non-existent. A capable nine-piece band at center stage providesaccompaniment to a seemingly endless line of soul impersonators, most of whom have the phantom voices and moves down pat.
With affection and sometimes remarkable vocal accuracy, the signature songs of Jackie Wilson, Al Green, Diana Ross, Martha Reeves and countless others were recalled one after another. The best of the lot--Gregory Cooper's James Brown, Aiesha's Aretha Franklin and WDJ's galvanizing Otis Redding--transcended nostalgia. These performers, all from Washington, brought considerable energy and excitement to their roles.
The Slick Show has tentative plans for a Broadwway opening next spring. As a musical its prospects seem dim indeed, but as an R&B revue its future looks quite promising.