The Ultimate Word

"The ultimate Word is not a paragraph but a person. If Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, then the heart of proclamation is personal and relational, not propositional."

Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki * God, Christ, Church, page 135

Friday, June 29, 2012

FCS: Closer Than Ever


Quick facts:
  • Show: Closer Than Ever
  • Off-Broadway
  • Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Closing date: July 14, 2012
  • Venue: York Theater at St. Peter's Church
  • Running time: ~2:30 (one intermission)
  • My seat: Fine  I was on the fifth row, stage right.
  • Ticket source: TDF
  • Understudies: none
Synopsis: There isn't a synopsis.  It's a revival of the musical revue featuring music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby.  Maltby also directed this production.

My thoughts: This will probably be the shortest version of "my thoughts" yet!  It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  The music by David Shire is constantly surprising - in a thrilling way.  The lyrics by Richard Maltby are clever, even if they do come off sometimes a bit dated (which, I suppose, is to be expected out of a show first performed in 1989).

All four actors gave strong performances.  The far and away standout was Jenn Colella.  In addition to brilliantly singing this demanding show, she was masterful in telling the story of each character she sang and played.  Additionally, Christiane Noll shone in her excellent performance of "Life Story" - a brilliant song!

The other star of the production, from my perspective, was Andrew Gerle on the piano (with one surprising and delightful vocal cameo, too!).  Throughout the show I found myself drawn to his work - often more than the actors.

The real take away for me tonight, however, is learning about York Theatre.  It's a charming little venue beneath St. Peter's Lutheran Church at Lexington and 54th.  I arrived early (as is my custom) and did get to peek into the worship space for a bit.  It's a fascinating modern design that takes advantage of the city as a backdrop for worship.  The campus is large, and mostly commercial, which undoubtedly produces revenue for the parish.

The theater company itself is dedicated to supporting new works of musical theater through fully staged productions and scores of developmental readings.  It only rarely does revivals like this.  Numerous shows that went on to be big have gotten their starts in this little company.  I look forward to following them now that I know they exist!

Closing arguments:
  • Would I see it again?  Probably not, but I WILL be buying the original cast recording.  It's worth listening to again and again.
  • Would I recommend it to others? If so, who?  Serious musicians would appreciate it, as well as theater insiders (they were all around me tonight).  It's probably not for just anyone - but the music is great and there's lots of it, so if that's your thing, you'd love it.
  • Twitter review: Great music brought back to life for the New York stage.

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