REVIEW // #theskinnyinside
The show played at Blackfriars on Saturday night
By way of Kelly Clarkson tunes and unique Broadway adaptations, the audience at Blackfriars Theatre on Saturday night got a glimpse of the inner narrative and life struggles of 36-year-old Nicholas Rogers. Rogers shares his story of overcoming both obesity and cancer toward a life centered on his mantra, “health not body.”
The show opens with a continuous reel of news clips, talk show hosts, and YouTube stars wondering aloud about the public health and the rising rates of obesity. When Rogers comes out in a sharp paisley button-up and dark blue oxfords, he looks like a confident man, of average-size. When he sings, he is on pitch with a slight vibrato—you can tell immediately he has a musical theater background.
“I Am Me,” Rogers says, and these three words ring clear throughout his songs and monologue in the unfolding of a lengthy journey toward self-acceptance. After telling the audience about a time when his sister used a picture of him for a character image of Piggy in a Lord of the Flies book report, Rogers sings songs including “Reflection” from Mulan and Kelly Clarkson’s "I Forgive You" to underscore his self-esteem struggles from a young age. In an updated rendition of a Wicked classic, now called “I’m Not That Guy,” we see a slideshow of male models, and Rogers’ realization he will never become one of them.
After overcoming cancer, Rogers made a life-changing decision to follow through with gastric bypass surgery to reverse years of torment and depression. It was a round-table meeting with many doctors that made him feel confident with his decision; this specific surgery, Rogers said, would allow him to enjoy his favorite foods (and alcohol) still, just in smaller amounts. He described his love for food in the song “Butter” from the Megon McDonough album Buy Me Bring Me Take Me: Don’t Mess My Hair—Life According to Four Bitchin’ Babes. It was easily the most humorous and relatable tune, but “Defying Obesity,” another Wicked adaptation, was entertaining, to say the least.
The songs became more uplifting post-surgery, and the turning point comes at “I Feel So Much Spring” from New Brain as Rogers begins to lose weight – the surgery had worked. The final song, Kelly Clarkson’s "People Like Us," is a final testament to the closure of Rogers’ path as the positive, bold man standing on stage, preaching self-acceptance to everyone who hears it.
Maddy Smith will be blogging throughout the festival.