Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mutable, Moveable Feast ...

And a pure delight -- the staged reading of Janet McMahan's show on the after-lives of a number of storybook characters. This performance took place at the Looby Theater on Friday night, May 12, as part of the on-going Tennessee Women's Theatre Project 2012 New Works Festival, which continues through May 20. Robby Coles, Janet's co-author on the script, was among those taking questions from the nearly full house after the house lights came up on a standing ovation, at show's end. The central metaphor of this musical show is a Magic Fruit Tree.
Billed as "Once Upon a Time (Not)," the show is still an evolving work, and Janet, who served as its narrator in last night's performance, announced that for now it will be known as "After Ever After." The story line has a little girl, Lucy, attacked by a number of villainous characters from her storybook, and continues through her turbulent interactions with them to a happy ending. The witch from "Snow White," the Big Bad Wolf from "Little Red Riding Hood," Captain Hook from "Peter Pan," and several other fairy-tale villains all learn the redemptive power of love, portrayed in the show's beautiful final song, "Listen to Love." Along the way, rollicking humor is interspersed with poignant depictions of modern dilemmas. Cinderella battles bunions, in a song that is so funny I almost fell off my seat laughing, and Snow White considers dyeing her hair, or perhaps donning a wig, after losing her Prince to a Blonde. "To Be or Not To Be A Blonde," delightfully rendered, including a tap-dancing interlude, was the vehicle for these lamentations. "The Tower Song," which accompanied little Lucy's time spent jailed in the Tower, and "Planning A Plot, Plotting A Plan," with Captain Hook and The Big Bad Wolf in nefarious cahoots, rounded out the list of songs now populating "After the After." Fresh rhymes and unexpected punch lines are the icing on this many-layered cake, which hardly needs the enhancement of costumes and sets, it is so vivid and lively in its script and in its wonderful, original songs. Particularly delightful is the little-girl protagonist, Lucy, played last night by eleven-year-old Lucy Turner. Other cast members starring in last night's performance were Elizabeth Ayton, David Wise, Taylor Simon, Paige Brouillette, Steven Fiske, Magan Mitchell, Audrey Franklin and Pat Street, with Janet McMahan and David Huntsinger accompanying on keyboard, and Janet narrating as well as singing at times with the chorus. Janet McMahan and her collaborators -- Robby Coles, David Huntsinger, and others -- have concocted a masterpiece in this funny, poignant work, which is so musically and aesthetically pleasing with its message of the strengthening power of trials overcome and the redemptive power of love.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive