Posts Tagged ‘Tom Kitt’

Head Over Heels
Songs by The Go-Go’s
Based on The Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney
Conceived and Original Book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder, Music Arranged by Tom Kitt
Directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor
Choreographed by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack
New Line Theatre
March 6, 2020

Michelle Sauer, Sara Rae Womack, Alyssa Wolf, Grace Langford
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre

New Line Theatre continues its tradition of offbeat hits with its latest production of Head Over Heels. Essentially a “jukebox musical” featuring music by pop group The Go-Go’s, this show show incorporates its musical catalog in a clever, crowd-pleasing way that’s more about telling a whimsical story inspired by classic literature and an ancient Greek setting than being a simple tribute to its musical source. It also provides a great opportunity for an excellent cast to showcase their talents as well as a great deal of energy and enthusiasm.

The plot can get convoluted at times, as a lot is going on here, but it’s a lot of fun, and the occasional confusion is part of the enjoyment. At first, in the kingdom of Arcadia, there are a lot of conflicting goals and motives. The King, Basilius (Zachary Allen Farmer) and Queen, Gynecia (Carrie Wenos Priesmeyer) have two daughters with romantic dilemmas. Younger daughter Philoclea (Melissa Felps) is in love with a rustic shepherd, Musidorus (Clayton Humburg), of whom her father does not approve. Meanwhile, the King is doubling his efforts to find an acceptable suitor for his elder daughter Pamela (Grace Langford), who isn’t interested in any of the men presented, and initially seems to be more in love with herself than anyone else. When the King and his attendant Dametas (Aaron Allen) go to visit the mysterious Oracle Pythio (Tiélere Cheatem), the oracle tells them of a four-fold prophecy which will lead to Arcadia’s losing its “Beat”. The king, determined to foil the prophecy, takes his people on a seemingly aimless journey, where eventually truths are revealed, lies are exposed, and there are a lot of whimsical twists and turns involving the King, Queen, Princesses, the Oracle, Dametas and his daughter, Pamela’s handmaid Mopsa (Jaclyn Amber), and more. 

Don’t think you have to be a fan of the Go-Go’s to enjoy this show. The group has always been more on the periphery of my musical interests, and I wasn’t extremely familiar with their songs beyond their bigger radio hits. Still, this show uses the songs well, and in a setting that might not seem an obvious one for these tunes. Everything from the rousing opening number “We Got the Beat” to other hits such as “Vacation”, “Our Lips Are Sealed”, and “Heaven is a Place on Earth” is used in an inventive way that contributes to the story. Especially notable is the fun, cleverly staged “Mad About You”, sung by Musidorus and a chorus of puppet sheep, staged in a hilarious, energetic way that makes it a highlight of the production. There is a message here, of accepting and encouraging change and not being bound to tradition simply for tradition’s sake, as well as some perspectives on challenging traditional gender norms and stereotypes, and everything is integrated into the story so that it fits the characters and situations well. Most of all, though, it’s a fun show with a lot of broad comedy and catchy, well-utilized pop tunes that serve the setting surprisingly well, even with the dialogue that’s more Elizabethan-sounding for the most part.

As is to be expected at New Line, the casting is strong, and the singing is especially impressive. Everyone from the leads to the ensemble puts in a winning, energetic performance, with standouts being Langford and Felps as the sisters who are at once different and not-so-different;  Humburg as the lovesick Musidorus, who through the course of the story has to change his appearance in a way that drives a lot of the plot; and Amber as the loyal, determined Mopsa, who both challenges and inspires Pamela. Farmer and Priesmeyer are excellent as the King and Queen, as well, as is Cheatem in a dynamic performance as the oracle Pythio. The chemistry among all the couples is strong, as well, as is the spirit and enthusiasm of the ensemble. There’s some especially clever staging here by directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor, and choreography by Michelle Sauer and Sara Rae Womack, along with a great band led by music director Nicolas Valdez.

The presentation here is colorful and whimsical, with Rob Lippert’s classically inspired set serving as an ideal backdrop for the action. There are also bright, striking costumes by Courtney Gibson and Sarah Porter that add to the overall tone of the show nicely. Also lending to the overall atmosphere is Kenneth Zinkl’s dazzling lighting. Overall, the look and feel of this production is in keeping with the catchy, bright pop score and the general comic tone that blends the classical and the modern in a cleverly inventive way.

Head Over Heels is another example of one of those shows that seems to fit better in a smaller setting like New Line than on Broadway. Staged at New Line’s home base, the Marcelle Theatre, this show makes the most of the space and the closeness to the audience, who are seated on either side of the performance area here. It’s a fun, colorful, energetic and thoroughly winning production that marks another success for New Line Theatre.

Clayton Humburg and Cast
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre

New Line Theatre is presenting Head Over Heels at the Marcelle Theatre until March 28, 2020

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Next to Normal
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey, Music by Tom Kitt
Directed by Edward Coffield
Insight Theatre Company
June 9, 2017


John Flack, Debby Lennon, Spencer Davis Milford Photo by John Lamb Insight Theatre Company

Insight Theatre Company is opening its 10th season in a new venue, and starting off with a highly regarded, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, Next to Normal. This small-cast show is an ideal fit for the .Zack in Grand Center. It’s a challenging, highly emotional show with a demanding score, and Insight has assembled an excellent cast, presenting the show in a somewhat different manner than I have seen before, and it works very well.

When I first heard of the casting for this production, I was expecting it to be good, especially since the lead role of Diana Goodman would be played by last year’s St. Louis Theater Circle Award winner for Best Actress in a Musical, Debby Lennon. And Lennon isn’t the only seasoned performer in this excellent cast. John Flack as Diana’s husband Dan, Ryan Scott Foizey as the doctors, and Spencer Davis Milford, as the Goodmans’ son Gabe have all done some excellent work in St. Louis theatre. They are joined by extremely promising newcomers Libby Jasper as the Goodmans’ conflicted teenage daughter Natalie, and Max Bahneman as Natalie’s on-again/off-again boyfriend Henry. It’s a story that focuses largely on Diana’s experiences with trying to manage her mental illness and her complicated family relationships, and also on Natalie’s struggle to deal with her own issues involving her family and her future plans. There isn’t a whole lot else I can say without spoiling too much, because this is a show that depends a lot on twists and revelations, although the central family relationships are at its core, with a strong musical score that ranges from more upbeat rock-based numbers to slower, emotional ballads. It’s a challenging work, and when staged well as it is here, it’s riveting.

This production is a little different than others I’ve seen, in terms of staging and vocals. Staging-wise, the pacing is a little slower than previous productions, with some of the line-deliveries being a little more subdued. The plot build-up seems to be more gradual as a result, and despite a slow-ish start on “Just Another Day”, the performances are excellent and well-timed. The set, designed by Robbie Ashurst, and the lighting by Charlotte Webster are more colorful as well, with an emphasis on a series of windows of varied hues hanging in the background, and aside from one slightly raised platform, most of the action takes place at stage level, also contrary to other performances I’ve seen. The costumes by Laura Hanson are appropriate and well-suited to the characters, and there’s also excellent musical direction by Ron McGowan, with a slightly different sound reflective of Lennon’s more operatic voice.

The cast is excellent, led by Lennon in a sympathetic, emotional performance as Diana, with powerful vocals on songs like “I Missed the Mountains”, “I Dreamed a Dance”, and “You Don’t Know”. Flack is also excellent as Diana’s supportive but increasingly exasperated husband, Dan. His scenes with Lennon carry a lot of power, and he brings a great deal of emotional energy to his songs, especially “I’ve Been” late in Act 1. There are also strong performances from the rich-voiced Jasper as the determined but conflicted Natalie, and by Bahneman as her sweet, persistent stoner boyfriend Henry. Milford is outstanding and full of energy as the dynamic, influential and mysterious Gabe as well, excelling especially on Gabe’s most well-known number “I’m Alive”. There’s also excellent work from Foizey as the two doctors, particularly the “rock star” Doctor Madden, although he does sound a little strained at times.

Next to Normal is a powerful, challenging show. It’s a character study as well as a story of relationships, and strong casting and musicality are essential. Those aspects are well represented in this memorable production from Insight Theatre. Although it takes a few minutes to really get going, once it does it’s engaging, fascinating, and highly affecting. It gets Insight’s new season in its new home off to an excellent start.

Ryan Scott Foizey, Spencer Davis Milford, Debby Lennon
Photo by John Lamb
Insight Theatre Company

Insight Theatre Company is presenting Next to Normal at the .Zack Theatre until June 25, 2017.

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Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Directed by Michael Greif
The Fox Theatre
March 15, 2016

Jackie Burns (center) and Cast of If/Then Photo by Joan Marcus If/Then National Tour

Jackie Burns (center) and Cast of If/Then
Photo by Joan Marcus
If/Then National Tour

I think most people have “what if” moments in their lives. Maybe it’s that class in college that you wish you had taken, or that person whose invitation you wish you had accepted. How would your life have been different if you had made one simple choice differently? The musical If/Then, currently on stage at the Fox Theatre, takes questions like that and makes a story out of them–or more precisely, two stories running concurrently.  It’s an intriguing concept that’s been given an inventive production, based on the Broadway staging. It’s not always easy to follow, but it’s an impressive production, and extremely entertaining.

If/Then‘s central figure is Elizabeth (Jackie Burns), who is seen wondering about a particular day in New York City’s Central Park. Having just returned to the city to start over after a failed marriage and 12 years out West, Elizabeth is presented with a dilemma–two friends, and which one to follow. Does she stay in the park with her new neighbor Kate (Tamyra Gray), or does she leave to join her former college boyfriend Lucas (Anthony Rapp) in a protest he’s organizing? The show presents both scenarios side-by-side, with Elizabeth going by the nickname “Liz” when she stays with Kate, and by “Beth” when she goes with Lucas. The name difference actually helps the audience to follow the plot, as Elizabeth’s life verges in potentially confusing directions, and the two timelines both feature some of the same characters but also others who are unique to one particular path. Most importantly in the “Liz” plot is Josh (Matthew Hydzik), a doctor just returned from a military tour overseas, who becomes her love interest in that plot while in the “Beth” plot, she accepts a high-powered city planning job and becomes involved in more complicated personal relationships. There isn’t much else I can say about the story that won’t spoil it, but I will say that the fates of Elizabeth’s friends are also affected by the divergence in her own paths, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

This isn’t an entirely original idea. There have been a few movies and stories with similar concepts, but this one has the team responsible for one of my favorite modern musicals, Next to Normal, behind it, and that definitely got my attention. Still, the music here isn’t as memorable as it is in Next to Normal, and the story can be hard to follow at times. I can’t even name many of the songs after seeing the show without having to consult the program. The show also seems to be suggesting a “moral” that is somewhat problematic, although explaining that in too much detail would spoil the ending. I’ll just say that one of the endings seems happier based on whether love or career is put first in Elizabeth’s life.

The casting is solid, with strong performances from the leads and the ensemble. Burns is a likable protagonist, with a strong, belty voice that’s occasionally too reminiscent of her Broadway and tour predecessor Idina Menzel. Still, Burns portrays both the “Liz” and “Beth” sides of Elizabeth’s story well, and her chemistry with Hydzik’s amiable, charming Josh is particularly convincing. Gray is full of energy and confidence as Kate, and she’s supported well by Janine DiVita as Kate’s girlfriend, Anne. Anthony Rapp, reprising his Broadway role as Lucas, is strong in both timelines, one of which gets him a kind doctor boyfriend named David (Marc Delacruz). Lucas, in fact, probably has the most significant change depending on the timeline, and Rapp portrays these differences well. There’s also a strong ensemble portraying various characters in support of both timelines.

Staging-wise, this show makes  strong visual impression, but also somewhat generic. The set, designed by Mark Wendland, is a modular collection of beams, bridges, and modular set pieces that move about as needed, with a great use of projections designed by Peter Nigrini and Dan Scully, especially in the suggestion of moving Subway trains. The park setup is more “general park” than Central Park, really, and the costumes, by Emily Rebholz, are suitably New York-ish. It’s a somewhat generalized version of New York that works for the show, but isn’t particularly distinctive.

Overall, I would say If/Then is interesting and entertaining, although it tends to be a little confusing as well. It’s not as brilliant or memorable as Next to Normal, but it’s a good concept and generally well presented. Most of all, the great cast is what makes this show worth seeing. Your life probably won’t change radically if you choose not to see it, but it if you do, it would be a good choice.

Tamyra Gray, Jackie Burns, Anthony Rapp and cast Photo by Joan Marcus If/Then National Tour

Tamyra Gray, Jackie Burns, Anthony Rapp and cast
Photo by Joan Marcus
If/Then National Tour

The National Tour of If/Then runs at the Fox Theatre until March 27, 2016.

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American Idiot
Music by Green Day, Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer
Musical Arrangements and Orchestrations by Tom Kitt
Directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy
New Line Theatre
March 4, 2016

Cast of American Idiot Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg New Line Theatre

Cast of American Idiot
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre

American Idiot was an album first, and then it was a musical. Now, it’s on stage at the Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center in a big, loud, angry, and extremely thoughtful production from New Line Theatre. With the first-rate singing that New Line is known for, as well as a stellar cast and striking physical production, American Idiot makes a strong impression with its story of displacement and confusion in post-9/11 America, underscored by the music of Green Day.

This is essentially the story of three young men and their quests for meaning and fulfillment amidst the disillusionment of their suburban existence. Johnny (Evan Fornachon), Tunny (Frederick Rice), and Will (Brendan Ochs) make a plan to escape to the city to seek adventure and a better life, but Will’s dream is immediately derailed when his girlfriend Heather (Larissa White) announces she’s pregnant, meaning Will stays home while his friends head off to New York. Once in the city, Johnny and Tunny take different paths. Johnny finds himself torn between the enticement of drugs personified by the charismatic St. Jimmy (Chris Kernan), and love with a girl he meets who is only referred to as Whatsername (Sarah Porter). Tunny catches onto a patriotic dream and joins the military, being sent overseas where he eventually finds that the reality of war doesn’t live up to its promise. Throughout the story, the loud, punk rock beats of Green Day drive the story of the contrasting lives of these three friends.

What’s particularly striking about this production is the staging, although it does have its drawbacks as well. The Marcelle’s black box theatre has been arranged so that the action takes place on a wide plane, with Rob Lippert’s vividly decorated set serving as a backdrop. Staging the action at various levels and in designated areas of the stage helps to distinguish the three main characters’ stories, but it’s also so spread out that it’s easy to miss events that happen on either end of the stage, depending upon where you’re sitting. I would advise sitting in the middle if at all possible. The costumes by Sarah Porter are excellent as well, suiting the characters well and ranging from the everyday clothes of the young protagonists to the more striking styling of characters like St. Jimmy. Kenneth Zinkl’s lighting is also effective in achieving the appropriate mood of the production especially in the more stylized fantasy sequences.  And directors Miller and Dowdy have staged the show well, with striking synchronized movement on songs like “Holiday”, “Before the Lobotomy”, and the more melancholy “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “21 Guns”.

This isn’t a perfect script, but the production makes the most of it. I’m mostly disappointed that this is such a male-centered story in which most of the female characters only seem to serve as figures in the men’s journeys, and except for Heather, they don’t even have real names. Still, the story is memorable and a strong realization of the anger, confusion, and occasional efforts at hope that characterize these characters’ lives in a world of competing images, promises, and propaganda. It’s the dynamic staging, the expertly played music by New Line’s excellent band conducted by Sue Goldford, and the as always stunning singing that give life to this highly emotional, affecting musical.

As usual, New Line has assembled a superb ensemble, and every cast member is in the moment every minute on stage. The three leads are well-cast, with Fornachon’s angry Johnny, Rice’s haunted Tunny and Ochs’s dejected and disenchanted Will serving as ideal representations of the themes portrayed here. All three have great rock voices as well, especially Rice. There’s also strong support from Kernan’s hypnotic St. Jimmy, Porter’s earnest Whatsername, White’s conflicted, strong-voiced Heather, Kevin Corpuz as the personification of military glory, the Favorite Son, and Sicily Mathenia as Tunny’s nurse and fantasy muse, the Extroardinary Girl.

American Idiot is a gritty, high powered, emotionally charged rock opera that presents a compelling picture of the lives of three young men on a journey for fulfillment in difficult times. It’s definitely not for kids, but for adults and older teens, this is a show that provides a lot to think about. It presents a striking auditory and visual tableau of life in early 2000’s America, with a soundtrack by a band that helped define the cultural atmosphere of that era.

Frederick Rice, Brendan Ochs, Evan Fornachon and cast Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg New Line Theatre

Frederick Rice, Brendan Ochs, Evan Fornachon and cast
Photo by Jill Ritter Lindberg
New Line Theatre

New Line Theatre is presenting American Idiot at the Marcelle Theatre in Grand Center until March 26, 2016.

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Next to Normal
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Music by Tom Kitt
Directed by Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy
New Line Theatre, St. Louis
February 28, 2013

n2n set

Lights go up on a stage set with a framework representing the inside of a house, assembled in a jumbled fashion from elements of one family’s life.  It all looks well-ordered at first glance, and then the odd elements catch the eye. There are lamps that stand right-side-up, hang upside-down, or stick out sideways from wall beams.  There is a door on its side where the roof should be, and boxes are stacked neatly in rows, while hundreds of small pill bottles decorate the scene everywhere.  In the foreground are four chairs, three neatly arranged in a line and one on the floor on its side.  This is reflection of the fact that not all is as it first seems with the show’s central characters, Diana Goodman (Kimi Short) and her family–husband Dan (Jeffrey M. Wright), son Gabe (Ryan Foizey) and daughter Natalie (Mary Beth Black). This show takes us on a tour through the lives of a family dealing with mental illness, relationship struggles and more, with an extremely well-written script, many excellent songs and New Line’s top-notch cast.

As Diana, Short gives a wonderfully measured, grounding performance that showcases the character’s energy as well as her confusion, fear and regret. It is something of an “every woman” performance in that she makes the character easy to relate to, even for those of us who do not share her struggles with mental illness.  With all of the character’s ups and downs, Short takes the audience with her along the way and has us hoping for a good outcome to her quest for answers and healing.  Her voice is strong and reminiscent of Alice Ripley’s from the Broadway cast album. She brings real strength and sympathy to songs like the wistful “I Miss the Mountains” and the angry “You Don’t Know”.  Her Diana is the center of this production, and the rest of the cast works very well with her.

As Diana’s stable-but-overwhelmed husband Dan, Wright lends excellent support, and makes Dan’s struggles to cope with the chaos as well as his own journey of grief, denial, and finally hope compelling. Their teenage daughter Natalie is an aspiring classical pianist who has her own struggles in dealing with relating to both of her parents as well as her sweet, affable slacker/stoner boyfriend Henry (Joseph McAnulty), and she is remarkably portrayed by high-school junior Mary Beth Black, an extremely promising young performer who has a very bright future ahead of her.  In addition to her very strong vocals, Black brings out all the sympathy in Natalie’s situation while at the same time very believably portraying the character’s confusion, frustration and anger, as well as her desire for a more genuine relationship with her parents in the midst of all the drama.  Natalie’s journey of self-discovery parallels Diana’s in several significant ways, and Black’s scenes with Short (including a trippy fantasy sequence in “Wish I Were Here”) are a particular highlight of this production.  Black also has great chemistry with McAnulty, and the off-and-on romance between Henry and Natalie is both intriguing and endearing.  I also liked how the Natalie/Henry relationship was contrasted with that of Diana and Dan especially in the second act in “Why Stay?”/”A Promise”, which is perfectly played by all four performers and is only one highlight of many in this beautifully realized production.

Rounding out the cast with equally outstanding performances are Ryan Foizey as the enigmatic son, Gabe, and Zachary Allen Farmer in a dual role as two of Diana’s doctors.  Gabe is in many ways the key to the conflict in this show, and Foizey is excellent, bringing all the charm, menace and mystery that the role requires, and his voice is strong and clear, bringing physical and emotional energy to numbers like “I’m Alive” and haunting magnetism to the slower numbers like “There’s a World”.  Farmer, provides strong support as the two very different doctors, displaying a strong voice and handling the “rock-star” fantasy sequences particularly well.

This show has lately become very popular with regional theatres, and New Line is the first St. Louis company to perform it.  It’s one of my favorite new musicals, and I was excited to be able to see a local production after having seen the national tour at the Fox two years ago with its giant multi-level set and slicker production values.  This production is smaller and more intimate, and that works very well as a way for bringing the audience into the action and emotions of the characters.  The set by Scott L. Schoonover doesn’t have all the height or scale of the Broadway and tour set, but it suits this production extremely well, with lots of depth and little details (like the the askew furniture and pill bottles) that may not be evident as first but become more noticeable upon further scrutiny.  The set provides just the right backdrop for this enthralling drama, and there is also an excellent band conducted by Music Director Justin Smolik which lends dynamic support to the truly spectacular cast.

It’s only three months into this year, and I’ve already fulfilled one of my New Year’s resolutions–to explore some more of St. Louis’s excellent local theatre companies.  New Line’s Next to Normal has impressed me in so many ways that I hope to see many more of this company’s productions in the future. Aside from a minor issue with uneven sound (that I’m sure will be corrected as the run continues), this was about as close to a perfect production of this show as I could imagine.  I encourage all my St. Louis readers to check it out.

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Next to Normal

US National Tour

The Fox Theatre, St. Louis

April 13 and 16, 2011

If you live in or anywhere near St. Louis, just go see this show. It’s that good.  I had been waiting to see this production for almost a year, after checking clips online out of curiosity (because I had read that one of my favorite musical theatre performers liked it), and then buying the cast album and simply falling in love with it.   I love musical theatre, and I have many favorite shows, but this one is just really special.  I will try my best to coherently explain why while keeping the review as spoiler-free as possible.

First, here’s a clip (from the original Broadway cast), in  a concert setting, of one of my favorite songs:

This production, the tour based on the Broadway production directed by Michael Greif, is worth all the hype you might read and more.  This is a show that almost defies description–it’s a musical (book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, music by Tom Kitt) about a family where the mother is suffering from bi-polar disorder, but it’s a lot more than that.  It’s a show about  people, and real everyday issues that are dealt with by many families, including  parental favoritism, ideals and dreams vs. reality, the dilemma of trying to protect loved ones vs. allowing them to make their own mistakes, and the strain of trying to keep up the appearance of perfection when the reality of life is anything but perfect.  It also has such a strong score and script that blend seamlessly together to tell this very intense, gripping story.

I was able to see two performances of this show, and as a result I saw both the regular cast members and the standbys as Diana, the mother, and her husband Dan.  On Wednesday night, I saw Pearl Sun and Jason Watson (the standbys) and on Saturday I saw Alice Ripley and Asa Somers (the regulars), and all were excellent, except I have to admit I’m a bit concerned about Ripley’s voice.  She originated the role on Broadway and won a well-deserved Tony Award, and she is wonderful in the role, especially as an actress, but her voice sounded very strained and hard to understand in places, and that was sometimes a distraction.  Sun on the other hand, had a clear and strong voice and acted the role very well, although she didn’t have quite the commanding presence and manic edge of Ripley.  With Watson and Somers, I think Watson had the stronger voice, but both actors turned in excellent performances–with Somers as more of a gentle, weary Dan and Watson a little more assertive.  It’s a testimony to the strength of this production and cast that the show works so well with different performers in the main roles.

Emma Hunton, as daughter Natalie, brings real depth to her role as a teenage girl who feels overwhelmed by circumstances and neglected by both parents in different ways.  She’s at turns sarcastic, pessimistic, angry, and surprisingly hopeful. Preston Sadleir as her boyfriend Henry provides solid support.  Son Gabe is an enigmatic figure well-played here by Curt Hansen.  He has the strong, acrobatic voice, boyish good looks, and tons of energy and stage presence.   Jeremy Kushnier, in a dual role as two of Diana’s doctors, is also excellent, with a strong voice that serves the rock-based score well.

This is such a perfectly constructed show, with elements of comedy, drama, realism and fantasy blended together to tell the story in a unique way.  There are some great songs, such as “Superboy and the Invisible Girl”, “I Miss the Mountains”, “I’m Alive”, “Light” and many more, but the songs are integrated into the script so well that it’s hard to imagine most of them sung out of context.  The songs serve the script, and the script serves the songs.  The show is also very cleverly staged, on an impressive multi-level set that allows for many scenes to be going on at one time.  It also provides the opportunity for some very athletic choreography especially for the character of Gabe.  The set also allows the show’s band to be onstage with the cast.   The lighting, costumes and sound were also top-notch, and added to both the realism and fantasy of the piece.

This show  has such truth in it, even if you don’t have the same issues as those of this family.    This is a show about mental illness, yes, and it is very specific in dealing with that issue,  but it’s also about hopes and dreams, and regrets, and just the everyday struggles of an imperfect family learning how to love and support one another.  It presents the characters as real people. There are no black-and-white, simple answers.  This show takes the characters on a journey, and as the show ends, they are all still on it.  There are some resolutions, but a lot is left open-ended as well, just like real life.   There is much that can be related to in this show, and the script, music and performances all worked together to make for an extraordinary theatrical experience.

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