Oscar E Moore

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GEORAMA – a lively musical lesson in art appreciation

August 9th, 2017 by Oscar E Moore

Chances are there are not too many people who have heard of the American artist John Banvard who found his fifteen minutes of international fame painting a three mile long “moving” panorama of the Mississippi River circa 1850.

As a struggling portrait artist he hooked up with Chapman (Nick Sullivan) an operator (entrepreneur) of a Mississippi showboat and impresario Taylor (Randy Blair).

With the assistance of his musical accompanist who later became his wife, he traveled far and wide with his original and unique idea – even presenting it to Queen Victoria.

So successful was he that many copied his idea least of all his friend Phineas “Taylor” Barnum who kind of pulled the wool over Banvard’s eyes and swept the canvas right from under his feet.

Also tintype photography came into vogue and moving panoramas were no longer popular with the fickle paying public.

Banvard quickly became a millionaire and then just as quickly lost it all – save for the love of his life – his wife – Elizabeth Goodnow.

Which brings me to the radiant Jillian Louis who portrays this feisty and adventurous woman opposite the handsome, naive and charming P. J. Griffith in the just closed New York Musical Festival production of GEORAMA – An American Panorama Told on Three Miles of Canvas which was first presented at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre.

The 1 hour and 30 minute production (without intermission) has just received a slew of NYMF “Outstanding” Awards of Excellence which should compel someone to continue its stage life so that many more can enjoy its merits.

Which are many.  First off the beautifully painted and projections of the panorama as backdrop by Scott Neale and Jason Thompson.

Then we have the story itself by West Hyler (who also directed) and Matt Schatz who wrote the music and lyrics (additional lyrics Jack Herrick).  The songs are perky and tuneful.  Skillfully played by Jacob Yates and Ana Marcu who also partake in the action.

The lyrics are witty and propel the story forward fleshing out the characters albeit with a sometimes repetitious three rhyme scheme.  Queen Victoria’s number, while amusing, seems a false fit for the show.

Nick Sullivan has his multi characters (including Queen Victoria) down pat.  And Randy Blair (a combination of Dom DeLuise and Jackie Gleason) as P.T. Barnum is delightfully manipulative.

And of course my favorite actress Jillian Louis who continues to enchant and amaze with her performances.  Along with a charismatic and dynamic P.J. Griffith they give heart to this quite entertaining artistic enterprise.

Photos: Jagged Edge Arts




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