Spellbound: A musical adventure – “an epic fantasy for all ages” written by Paul J. Deakin and Christian De Gre is being presented at The Ellen Stewart at La Mama ETC as part of the Fringe Festival NYC, directed by Nancy Robillard.
It is fitting that it is playing at this venue as so many experimental plays have been supported and nurtured here. Spellbound is an ambitious project. It tries to do far more than it can possibly achieve on stage. It is a fantasy. It is about wizardry, warlocks and witches with oddly named characters inhabiting their very own mythical world. Does Harry Potter come to mind?
It does. Only the person who wants to follow in grandfather’s magical Wizard shoes is an eighteen year old girl named Herianne – with a lovely soprano (Ashley C. Williams). And so she meets up with lots of opposition on her journey to become a Grand Wizard. Girls cannot do that. But with a lot of help from her friends she does exactly that.
It doesn’t matter if a musical is “for all ages” – what does matter is having characters that you can care about, a strong story and memorable music. Spellbound does have a heroine that we care for but the story is a bit too convoluted and the music, which sounds like a combination of “New Age” and Yanni with a nod towards Andrew Lloyd Webber, strains the eardrums with its abundant duets, trios and quintets.
There are twenty two pre recorded songs that the large cast of eighteen actors sings along with under the direction of musical direction of Manny Simone without intermission.
Many of the singers are outstanding: Aaron Schroeder (Greeme) Martin Van Treuren (Master Garlan) Kristin Wetherington (The Dark Witch Meldah) and David Garry (Egor) who also gets to complain and fart a lot, adding some much needed comedy to the saga.
Spellbound might make a better movie.
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