At The Duke on 42nd Street where “See Rock City & Other Destinations” produced by The Transport Group Theatre Company will be running through August 8th you will upon entering the theatre find, in a fog induced atmosphere, all the lawn and beach chairs (that will eventually be placed around the arena for the General Admission seats while you stand behind a white line waiting) piled high at the far end of the bare stage, rather “acting arena” and lit from within where the orchestra will accompany the seven actors portraying fourteen characters that will take you on a journey cross country to six tourist attractions. There are also no programs distributed until you leave the performance. And no songs listed in the program. It is all very alienating to say the least.
However, the show itself is a must see for anyone interested in musical theatre. It is a unique and unusual experience – sometimes otherworldly, emotionally touching and a musical unlike any I’ve ever seen directed by Jack Cummings III with great imagination, theatricality and care. You may at first feel that you have walked into some bizarre Twilight Zone musical production of Our Town as a narrator sets up the various scenes that take us to Rock City, Roswell, New Mexico, the Alamo, Alaska, Coney Island and Niagara Falls.
Six separate stories where the fully developed characters are self contained. They do not overlap. But they all have some things in common – aloneness and the desire to connect, being afraid to take a chance on a chance meeting with a stranger, afraid to experience something new and alive, afraid to commit and the heartache of memories These characters will touch you and haunt you. They are not easily forgotten.
The creators (Book & Lyrics by Adam Mathias and Music by Brad Alexander) offer hope and romanticism throughout and the actors are superb in fleshing out and digging deep within themselves to convey the feelings of those they represent.
The waitress (Mamie Parris) who goes off with a customer (Bryse Ryness) and sings about the contents of his car’s glove compartment, the guy searching for UFO’s (Stanley Bahorek), the wheelchair bound Grampy (Ryan Hilliard) muttering nonsense that only his grand daughter (Sally Wilfert) can understand until he sings about his wife. The lawyer that she meets, Dempsey (Jonathan Hammond) offering up one last chance at connecting, Claire (Donna Lynne Champlin) one of a trio of sisters scattering their dad’s ashes overboard a ship – singing a cappella one of their dad’s favorite songs despite strong sibling rivalry, two high school pals taking off to Coney Island and discovering each other in the Spook House, and a bride afraid of taking the plunge being urged on by a tour guide at Niagara Falls to do just that – in a barrel.
The score is more Sondheim than Herman. It has a sound of its own and is melodic in an eerie way and supports the character driven lyrics with perfection. Technically the show makes use of the simplest of props and lighting designer R. Lee Kennedy has done a spectacular job even with darkness. A moveable scaffold takes the actors high up to sing about the vista of Rock City and the Falls at Niagara. It’s a stunning production. See it.
Tags: Adam Mathias · Brad Alexander · Bryse Ryness · Donna Lynne Champlin · Jack Cummings III · Jonathan Hammond · Mamie Parris · R. Lee Kennedy · Ryan Hilliard · Sally Wilfert · Stanley Bahorek · Transport GroupNo Comments