Recommendation: Don’t see it unless you’re a die-hard social justice warrior and special snowflake lover.
Rating (Out of 5 Stars): 2 stars
Negatives: Plot was overly simplistic, underdeveloped, hallmark-y, and mostly boring.
Story, Script, and Lyrics: They advertised this as “A Sensory Experience in Two Acts.” Apparently the first act was the musical and the “second act” was an art show.
First Act: The musical followed the struggles of socially awkward kid who gets overly-stimulated easily and paints/draws to cope. The “moral of the story” was that everyone is special and contributes something worthwhile to society (I’m gagging).
Second Act: The “second act” art show consisted of paintings by a local (mentally-challenged?) artist who I assume the main character is based on. I’m no visual art critic but I wasn’t too impressed by the works. Just because someone picks up a brush doesn’t mean they’re an artist.
Cast and Theater Company: Cast wasn’t bad. Though I assume the non-main characters had limited experience in the theater.
Recommendation: Worth seeing if you’re bored. Just know that this is a new theater company.
Rating (Out of 5 Stars): 3.75 stars
Negatives: Seating does not gradually elevate like risers so it’s often hard to find a good view. Also the set was very plain. Musical was a little too kid friendly (which may be a positive for you) and didn’t really have a plot. Not sure why it won a Tony Award.
Story, Script, and Lyrics: This musical was basically little vignettes featuring the characters in the Peanuts comic. Consequently, there was no developed plot or story. It definitely appealed to kids, which surprised me because usually you don’t find this in a musical that was previously performed by a star-studded cast (Anthony Rapp, Kristin Chenoweth, and Roger Bart).
Venue and Set: Venue was in a the carpeted (yuck!) gym of the Newport Covenant Church . It felt very church/school program-y. There was even a collection at intermission where they pass around offering plates. Nice bonus was the free intermission snacks (Chex Mix and water).
Music and Audio: Actors were mic’ed well and the band was good (I suspect this was the church’s band haha).
Negatives: The beginning of the story was hard to follow … though it may be because of my forever wondering mind.
Story, Script, and Lyrics: The past and present intersect as two daughters cope with the death of their mom and a reporter copes with the death of her colleague. Script and lyrics were good but not mind-blowing. Deaths could have been more dramatic.
Cast and Theater Company: Typical high-quality Village Theatre talent/production. Note that this was a developing musical in the Beta Series so nothing is really set in stone. Literally, every performance will be intentionally different as they try new things. Hopefully, they’ll axe or revise the Franklin character, who provided unnecessary comedic relief to the piece.
Venue and Set: Pretty detailed for being a developing Beta Series musical.
Music and Audio: Incredible voices and great music. Wish it wasn’t too early to buy the soundtrack. Musical was touted as a “Rock Musical,” which I don’t quite agree with. The only rock songs/voice came from the mother Lydia (well-played by Mari Nelson). Loved the golden voice of Taylor Niemeyer. There were often two side actor who randomly came on stage to harmonize with the main actors, which I thought was weird. I suspect this was because it was a developing Beta Series musical.
Recommendation: See it! It’s my favorite (or 2nd favorite) musical. Seen it 3 times already … and none of them were professionally produced!
Rating (Out of 5 Stars): 4.5 stars
Negatives: Sometimes actors’ vocal pitch was flat. I suspect this was because I attended an afternoon matinee. It probably would have sounded better during an evening performance when their vocal cords were more warmed up. That being said, any tonal variation would probably have been unnoticeable to the untrained ear.
Story, Script, and Lyrics: Suburban mom with bipolar depression and schizophrenic features. One of the few musicals to win a Pulitzer (which is usually for books and not for stage performances), this piece is so well written and relevant for an over-medicated society (this coming from a pharmacist). It’s a great commentary on the practice of psychiatry. One of the treatments (won’t spoil it) was a bit over the top though. I absolutely love how in the middle of the first act (again, won’t spoil it) the audience caught completely off guard. I felt so betrayed! Such good writing. Unlike most musicals I like to watch, the ending was more realistic (aka sad) than your typical happily-ever-after. Basically, there’s no easy answer to mental illness.
Cast and Theater Company: Well-chosen cast. Hilary Heinz Luthi had a great raw voice for this rock musical. David Naber added a nice ballet-like sinister aspect to the Gabe character. It didn’t hurt that he was great eye candy as well haha. I’ve seen 3 performances from Twelfth Night Productions. Two have been good and was one was mediocre. I’m curious to see what the next one will be like.
Venue and Set: Venue in an old elementary school converted to youth arts center. The performance was actually in the gym. Despite the simple set, the cast worked well with what little they had and it let the writing/acting shine more. My friend said that he preferred this intimate simple production over the national professional tour he saw on the big stage at a major venue. He said it’s easier to experience the raw emotion. Interesting stage effects during the climax (i won’t spoil it!) of the first act.
Music and Audio: What can I say, I love rock/pop musicals. The band was good and the conductor/pianist (Greg Smith) was particularly enthusiastic and expressive.