Two strangulations. A suicide. Incest. Treachery. War. After-life. And lots and lots of drums being beat sums up Marcus Hummon’s TUT.
This is the third musical by Marcus Hummon (book, music, lyrics) that I have seen over the years at NYMF. WARRIOR and THE PIPER were extremely impressive and so I was looking forward to seeing TUT at The Theatre at St. Clements.
TUT is a strange combination of theatrical parts. A dance/performance piece – mostly sung through it sometimes sounds operatic; sometimes – Yanni meets Carmina Burana.
The choreography by Abdel R. Salaam (artistic director of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre) mirrors in stylized dance movements what the narrator of the piece – the British archaeologist Howard Carter (an incredibly strong Sean Maclaughlin) describes as he searches for the long lost tomb of King Tutankhamun while we see Tut’s tragic short life and after life unfold.
TUT is a bold and ambitious attempt. Grammy Award-Winner Marcus. Hummon has gone way beyond his comfort zone here. Which shows his desire to grow as an artist. But this score or song cycle assaults the ears with a tsunami of sound. It seems that the mantra of loud, louder, loudest has taken over the production. I kept waiting for a quiet, beautifully melodic moment to emerge from the rhythmic beating of the drums and disappointed when none came. Where is the mystery that is Egypt?
The cast has some remarkable singers. The already mentioned Mr. Maclaughlin who has the most difficult job of holding the production together while creating a fully realized character as he recounts his journey of discovery. He is confident and has a tremendous voice and presence.
Curtis Wiley brings Tut to life with his soaring tenor. As the evil uncle Ay, Jesse Means surprises every time he sings with his deep resonant basso. And then there is the beautiful N’Kenge who portrays Ankhesenamun, Tut’s sister and wife, with sensitivity and a voice that whose range reaches stratospheric heights.
TUT is a most interesting undertaking that is not altogether successful as of yet.
www.nymf.org Photo: Jeff Larkin
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