Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Jones is returning to The Wizard of Hip 25 years after he originally appeared in it at Washington's Studio Theatre. As he's gained some years and some wisdom (as he jokes, now it's "The Wizard of Hip Replacement"), Jones no longer holds the stage alone as he did before; he's joined by two Lady Doo Wops (Jasmine Eileen Coles and Kanysha Williams) and live music by William Knowles (original music, music director, keyboard) and Greg Holloway (drums).
The question Jones raises is, what does being hip really mean? "Hipness is what it is," the Lady Doo Wops repeat as Afro Jo (Jones) narrates and hoofs his way through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. He recounts his days in Catholic school, his experience with Pentecostal worship, and his discovery of the "true church"watching professional basketball. From there it's on to the frustration of being 13 years old at a school dance, trying to balance macho posturing against sensitivity as he desperately pursues women, and ultimately realizing he has become who he was meant to be.
Jones is a winning performer and the two women are delightful, but enough is enough. The production is tiring despite a minimalist staging: the set design by Carl Gudenius and Shuxing Fan consists of platforms and a rear wall that displays Robbie Hayes' projection designs, while Michael Sharp's costumes tend toward gray and black athletic wear.