What’s going on? You may very well ask yourself the same question if you happen to visit Inner Voices: Solo Musicals now being performed by two very talented females – Heidi Blickenstaff and Judith Blazer in two very unusual one act solo musicals (and I use the term loosely) at Primary Stages 59 East 59 Street in conjunction with Premieres (a non-profit whose mission is to create new partnerships among exceptional writers and composers). I repeat: What’s going on?
First off, if I could have heard what Heidi was singing in the opening show – Mosaic by Cheri Steinkellner and Georgia Stitt PERHAPS I would have been better off, perhaps not. The sound designer Toby Jaguar Algya perhaps does not like Heidi, favoring the grand piano being pounded on by Steve Marzullo with guitarist Simon Kafka by his side. Why a guitar? That instrument would have been better off helping out the second more exotic show starring Ms. Blazer – Whida Peru: Resurrection Tangle which has some flamenco and tango motifs floating around the score by Josh Schmidt with a libretto by David Simpatico. Imagine, Kafka and Simpatico on the same bill!
Anyway the balance is so off that it is nearly impossible to hear anything that Heidi says or sings (even with a head mike that was not working). As Ruth she sings her self pitying narrative about all the firsts in her life as she sits at her desk working at her laptop while we see photo projections that disappear as the show continues and I squirm in my seat as Heidi is forced to sit in her chair, seemingly glued to it and we see how desperately she wants to get out of it. But there she sits. I did understand that she has a baby on the way and cancer. She is a songwriter looking for inspiration. And she sings a lullaby which ends her part of the double bill. Whew!
Next. Candlelight and balloons. A cake. In some sort of gypsy den where Voodoo Goddess Judith Blazer talks with her dead husband whose ashes she transfers from an urn to a clown cookie jar looking, sounding and acting like a combination of Chita Rivera, Patti LuPone and Adam Lambert. She swoons and vents her anger at the spirits. Hating and loving and looking for something unintelligible to me.
In addition to playing the score, pianist Andy Boroson plays ghost – tapping on its frame and stomping his foot in some percussive manner which leads her to do an odd dance if you will as she alternately berates and loves her lost love. Very primal. As she says, “It’s like a bad dream.” I couldn’t agree more. And I re-repeat: What’s going on? Heidi Blickenstaff and Judith Blazer deserve better. And so do we.
Photo: James Leynse