‘Minimum Wage’ pays off for Denver audiences

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When "Minimum Wage" played Off-Broadway in 2007, Denver-based co-writers/brothers Jeff and Charlie La Greca were in the cast of this kooky and wonderful a cappella musical comedy. (Sean Altman co-wrote the songs).

One has to see this one to believe it!

The actors don’t need a band — they supply their own music with their voices as they carry the audience at Denver’s Avenue Theater through training sessions at Happy Hamburger University, where “Minimum Wage” is what they’ll earn.

Under the sure hand of director Nick Sugar, Michael Bouchard (Hux), Keegan C. Flaugh (Titus), Damon Guerasio (Orwell), Abby McInerney (Piercy) and Carter Edward Smith (Bradbury) sing rocking a cappella music almost non-stop for 90 minutes. There are a few minutes out to watch grainy, bad training videos and announcements from the company headquarters and a few more for bits of goony action.

Numbers of new shops keep being announced. References to another major hamburger chain are continual and clever.

Music director Mark Middlebrooks, a teacher and performer familiar to fans at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center, has, in conjunction with Sugar’s good-humored direction and choreography, delivered an all-together chorus of singers, each with a different role in the a cappella format and each individually outstanding.

Strong harmonies, beatboxing and fine comic timing prevail.

Happy Hamburger University training includes segments on fryers, grills and spatulas, dangers and the theme song about what they’ll earn as they work their way toward the middle — “Minimum Wa-yay-age.”

Different songs offer each performer a chance to shine.

Keegan C. Flaugh, the booming bass, is the hypochondriac chain clown, Kooky, and Abby McInerney “Shakes her Booty With Danger.”

Damon Guerasio’s take on “G-R-I-Double-L” is a show-stopper in this most entertaining evening — it’s not to be missed.