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First review. Ho hum.

‘B-Boy Bluez’ and ‘Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower’ Thursday, August 24, 2006


Vortex Repertory Company has started its own minifestival of new work with its latest series, “New Plays/Fresh Voices.”

Zell Miller III’s “B-Boy Bluez” isn’t precisely new, though. The busy and energetic performance poet has presented a show with the same title since 2004, though he keeps tweaking it, updating his monologue with fresh material. And like all of Miller’s other authored pieces, the 45-minute “B-Boy Bluez” is an autobiographical reflection of his coming-of-age experiences this one centered on his early school years in a still racially segregatedAustin. With segments of rap poetry and traditional monologue woven together, Miller sheds light on his early inklings as a writer with touching and often hilarious effect.

Miller is a riveting performer, a shrewd and funny mimic, a master storyteller whose lyrical prose commands attention and whose narrative technique offers touching insights. All the more, then, that he didn’t need the trio of amateurish female break dancers to be the entr’acte diversion.

Maggie Gallant opened the evening with her solo show “Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower.” An engaging actor with a quirky style, Gallant nevertheless left us wanting more from her tale of a British college student anticipating the first connection with her birth mother. While Gallant displayed flashes of wit, her narrative wasn’t quite full-bodied enough to be fully satisfying.

(“B-Boy Bluez” and “Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower” continue at 8 p.m. today-Saturday. The Vortex, 2307 Manor Road. $10-$30. 478-5282,

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin