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PigPen Theatre Co. Dazzle at Music Hall of Williamsburg [Review]

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Beautiful harmonies, great musicianship and unmatched showmanship make their show a must-see.

PigPen Theatre Co. Dazzle at Music Hall of Williamsburg [Review]

In this article…

Picture this: seven men are up on stage telling you stories through songs for over an hour. All seven are singing their hearts out, sometimes all at once in perfect unison, and other times with gorgeous harmonies. Where do you think you are, a musical production or a concert?

When you're at a PigPen Theater Co. concert, the answer is both. 

Last Saturday, PigPen Theater Co. played the Music Hall of Williamsburg and turned the venue into their own personal playhouse. The reason their show can sometimes feel like a musical is because all seven members of the group (Alex Falberg, Arya Shahi, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen, Daniel Weschler, Matthew Nuernberger and Ryan Melia) are all theater actors. They met in 2008 as freshman at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, and they can do more than just act: they can all play instruments and they can all sing. From banjos to accordions to fiddles and more, these guys can really do it all. 

The longstanding camaraderie between the members is palpable. The guys are all easygoing on stage, and they swap instruments between songs like it's nothing. There's plenty of laughter to go around, but when they all sing together, it's seriously magical. Seven voices all combining to create something gorgeous. There's something really powerful about that. The theater training definitely gives them an edge here, as they are all effortless performers and entertainers. 

One thing that really upped the performance value of the show the entire group hopping down into the crowd to play a song totally unplugged and acoustic. Although they had to deal with a couple of asses making loud noises here and there, but once they got going, people got their feet stomping in time with the tune and really focused in. It was a real rush to be gathered around the band in a communal circle like that, and they seemed to really enjoy it, too. Check it out below:  

The continuity and camaraderie even spread through to their opening band, The Spring Standards. They had some of their members join them for songs, and the performances were perfectly complimentary. That was the beautiful part of watching these men (and women when Heather Robb joined them). There were ample opportunities for some members to upstage the rest and really ham it up. That never happened. Everything was harmonious and in perfect sync. It was teamwork at its finest. 

The songs also play out like miniature theater productions in themselves. The lyricism is truly entertaining, and the song construction gives the audiences several rising moments to get really excited about. The storytelling nature of the songs keeps everyone invested. 

The entire set went smoothly, but if there was a common complaint from us all, it was that it didn't last nearly long enough. The group came out for an encore, and they capped things off with an incredible rendition of "The Weight" by The Band (complete with all four members of The Spring Standards) that brought the house down. We all sang and danced right in time during the singalong, and it was a great way to end the night.

This band is destined for really nice things. They would be a perfect group to see up at the Newport Folk Festival, and frankly, they would be a perfect group to see anywhere that good performances are appreciated. There's too much talent there to keep these guys on the underground for much longer.

Want great tickets but hate paying fees? Check CHARGED.fm to find tickets for less and NO FEES!


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