In this giant jig saw puzzle of a musical, The Toy Maker, written by the multi talented Bryan Putnam (Book, Music and Lyrics) a modern day, childless Sarah (a radiant Rosena M. Hill) searches the internet to buy another carved wooden toy from a famous Czechoslovakian toy maker from the town of Lidice which was destroyed by the Nazis in 1942. She soon finds herself on a journey to Europe, without her husband, to uncover the mysteries surrounding its history and gets far more than she bargained for.
At the airport she is accosted by a young Czech boy, Doby (Bryan Welnicki) whom she befriends. They become an unlikely pair as he accompanies her, acting as the go between in exchange for money. Mr. Welnicki has a sparkle of mischief in his eyes, sings well and commands the stage – adding welcomed humor to an otherwise heavily dramatic production.
We travel back in time and meet the toymaker who desperately wants to make a toy for a child of his own one day. The past and present stories parallel one another and it is only towards the end of the second act when all the pieces fall into place that you understand how everything so beautifully connects.
It is a complicated and extremely long emotional journey. But worth it. The production is wonderful. The director, Lawrence Edelson, has chosen to portray many of the scenes using his actors as life sized marionettes. It is visually striking. At first we care little for these people until their secret story unfolds and we understand how they all relate to one another.
The cast of twenty is exceptional, with Rob Richardson, Jessica Burrows, Greg Stone, Joan Barber, Ira Denmark, Darren Biggart and Dale Soules joining Rosena M. Hill in giving emotionally powerful performances.
But the best feature of the show is the score by Bryan Putnam which conveys all the fear and hope and beauty of the two intertwining past and present stories of The Toy Maker.
The New York Musical Festival must be applauded for giving the opportunity for serious musicals like this to be seen.