Live Review: Basic Training

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Basic Training

Stage Door Theater

March 10, 2009

The Deal: Kahlil Ashanti brings his one-man comedic and personal production, Basic Training to Blumenthal Performing Arts Center's Stage Door Theater.

The Good: In Basic Training, Ashanti plays 23 characters (some of which you love, and some of which you love to hate) who he knows all-to-well from his life. When he fled to the Air Force to escape abuse from his "father," (not his blood father, as he learns just before he leaves) Ashanti gets more than he bargained for, including a psychotic, foul-mouthed drill sergeant, a fellow comrade with Tourette Syndrome and those involved with an elite Air Force entertainment troupe called Tops In Blue, including Smokey (who can't say "category" correctly) and the flamboyant Louie. With experience in stand-up comedy Ashanti's path takes a swerve in another direction when he tries out for and gets accepted into Tops In Blue. Things get better, but Ashanti still isn't trouble free. He faces dangers in the Middle East when the troupe's bus is ransacked and even worse, internal struggles over his ongoing curiosity about his biological father.

The Bad: There are probably folks out there who would argue that a full cast of actors/actresses surpasses a one-man show, but they'd be hard-pressed to even try to debate on it after seeing this show.

The Verdict: Ashanti's ability to switch characters so quickly and smoothly is impressive, in addition to the shows blend of seriousness and humor for what amounts to, in the end, an inspirational and touching performance. Go see Basic Training, before it leaves Charlotte.

Basic Training performances will go down Wed., March 11, 7:30 p.m.; Thurs., March 12, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., March 13, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 15, 3 p.m.

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