Saturday, November 03, 2018

Premieres Presents "Inner Voices" - A Musical Theater Trilogy In One Evening - A Must See!


Every two years, Premieres produces "Inner Voices," three new one act musicals for solo performer. This year's three choices for "Inner Voices" are each extraordinary, both in terms of writing and performing. Taken together, they function as a triptych, each panel telling its own story while echoing themes from the adjoining works of art.

Let's begin by discussing the middle piece, "Costume," with extraordinary Words and Music by Daniel Zaitchik and Directed by Noah Himmelstein.  Deborah Abramson provides Musical Direction with Patti Kilroy and Ludovica Burtone on violin. Young Finn Douglas is simply transcendent portraying an 11 year-old on Halloween Eve in 1954. The action centers on lonely Leo, feeling sad that this year he has no Halloween costume because his mother is locked in her bedroom amidst one of her many frequent "spells" of depression. He is enlisted by a neighbor to help to nurse back to health a wounded pigeon who has landed on the neighbor's lawn. Leo voices the fact that he feels that he is "not the right man for the job." We later learn the complex reasons why he feels this way. The metaphor is obvious and powerful; Leo and his mother are both wounded birds, living with the aftermath and emptiness of Leo's father never returning from WWII. Finn Douglas takes us through a wide arc of emotions as he ponders the difference between a "Good quiet" and a "Bad quiet." The actor's stage presence and ability to handle the burden of memorizing and flawlessly delivering a large volume of material is precocious and impressive. Two of the emotional high points of this beautifully rendered piece are the moment when the healed bird flies out of the open window, never to return, and the moment when Leo improvises a personally thematic Halloween costume.

Finn Douglas in "The Costume"
"Inner Voices" by Premieres
at TBG Mainstage Theatre
Photo by Russ Rowland

The opening musical is "Window Treatment," with Words by Deborah Zoe Laufer and Music by Daniel Green, Directed by Portia Krieger and Musical Direction is by Paul Masse with Brandon Wong on vibraphone. Farah Alvin plays a physician whose dysfunctional emotional universe is limited to her fantasizing about a relationship with the man across the apartment-house courtyard in Apartment 4G. The desperation that Ms. Alvin portrays is palpable as she peers through her binoculars wondering why her fantasy paramour has broken his predictable pattern of arriving home at precisely the same time. She is broken-hearted when she spies out the reason why he went shopping on his way home. Seldom have OCD and stalking been written about and acted more hilariously.

Farah Alvin in "Window Treatment"
"Inner Voices" by Premieres
at TBG Mainstage Theatre
Photo by Russ Rowland

The final piece of the puzzle is "Scaffolding," with Words and Music by Jeff Blumenkrantz, Directed by Victoria  Clark and Musical Direction by Benji Goldsmith with Yari Bond on Cello. Rebecca portrays a single mother teacher returning exhausted from her harrowing commute after another day in the classroom. She is stressing out over helping her brilliant son get into MIT. We learn that he is on the autism spectrum, but she has not made him aware of being on the spectrum. She has been supporting him - "Scaffolding" him - to compensate for his social awkwardness. Her misguided efforts at being a helicopter Mom have devastating consequences as his MIT interview ends in disastrous paralysis. Our hearts break along with Mom's as her wounded bird flies out of the window, apparently never to return.


Rebacca Luker in "Scaffolding"
"Inner Voices" by Premieres
at TBG Mainstage Theatre
Photo by Russ Rowland
Premieres' Producing Artistic Director Paulette Haupt has woven together the individual voices of three play-writing teams, and has found a way to harmonize them with one another to sing about loneliness as experienced by individuals from three generations. The result is one of the most moving and satisfying evenings of theater I have experienced this season. This production is a MUST SEE, running at the TBG Mainstage Theatre on 312 W. 36th Street through November 17th.

Enjoy!

Al

3 comments:

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