Various ways of doing oneself in – a bullet to the head (Richard, an engineer who has made a big mistake – Seth Blum), an overdose of pills (Samantha, a young girl who couldn’t cope with the loss of her family – Jillian Gottlieb), hanging (Andrew, a young misfit – Matthew Corr) and jumping (Jonathan, a Marine – Mike Backes) bring these four seemingly unrelated strangers together in an airport waiting area.
Overseen by Peter – as in The Pearly Gates (Michael-Anthony Souza) they await being booked on their next flight out. Arriving a bit late is the late girl friend of Jonathan, Cynthia (Ashley Picciallo) who has also ended her life by the same method – jumping – bringing along her bridal veil that she never got to wear.
As they are instructed by song and dance impresario Peter – channeling Ben Vereen at times – they have to resolve whatever guilt and problems they left behind before they can move on. And they will have to decide who most is worthy to be chosen as there are only two available seats. An odd scenario for a musical, to say the least.
With a slew of character driven songs, sung dialogue and almost complete underscoring STANDBY, the musical with Music by Keith Robinson & Amy Baer and Book & Lyrics by Alfred Solis & Mark-Eugene Garcia is as interesting as it is odd.
More a song cycle than a traditional book musical, it’s pleasing to the ear while attempting to explain how these random five people are connected which is a bit contrived but sometimes quite moving as they are given a second chance to take an emotional look at their lives to resolve the issues that caused them to commit suicide.
The performers are excellent and their musicianship superb. The arrangements and harmonies are extremely good. And the song “To Feel Alive” is as uplifting and life- affirming as anything can be.
Directed simply and professionally by Marc Eardley, STANDBY, the musical with musical staging by Leasen Almquist is at The Players Theatre as part of FringeNYC. NO LATE SEATING.
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