08 May, 2004

Positive Outlook

....I feel good in a special way/I'm in love and it's a sunny day/ Good day, Sunshine....

It's cooler today than yesterday, but as yesterday was so perfect, I would be embarrassed to complain.

I took the yellow bikini out for a test dive at Lisa's. No, no- only the children were brave enough to go in the pool. I contented myself with basking, basted in the first sweet summer sweat. I am so fond of this group of women, even though they are trying to tag me with a Bipolar label. Hah, it won't stick. True, I have very little truck with equilibrium, but I rarely get anything worthwhile out of even keel emotions. I'd go so far as to say Never, but I hate to box myself in.

The phone call I hoped for came, and I am encouraged and optimistic. The day was productive, and ends with a performance of a world premier musical, Songs For My Daughter. Though it's verboten to review a show, any show, on Opening Night, and especially one that's brand new, I have ignored rigid stifling standards, broken with tradition and plowed full stream ahead. (These trite expressions, they're a bit like donuts, aren't they? You get started and have trouble stopping, even thought you know they're empty and stale. Adkins for writing: just the meat.)

So here's the review, which I may submit somewhere or other, if I can find anyone who's interested.

Musical Artists Theatre presents Songs For My Daughter at the Chesapeake Arts Center.

While it is hardly fair to review a world premier show on its opening night, Musical Artists Theatre's newest offering, Songs For My Daughter, is equal to the challenge.

Veteran playwright Michael Hulett wrote and directed this multi-layered, evocative show, which is two hours of intrigue and delight. The cast members are obviously dedicated to the production, and their levels of commitment make their performances shine. Peggy Dorsey does a remarkably subtle job of portraying Amy, the main character, the daughter in question. Jose de la Mar has wonderful timing as Amy's lover, TJ- though this relationship is underplayed- and gets all the laughs in the show. Ruth Hulett, as Kim, has a voice that would break the hearts of angels. The supporting cast members, in ensemble roles, are to be commended for their versatility.

The set is as wonderful as you can imagine, because you have to. There is none. Two platforms, the actions of the cast and some clever sound work create all the scenery for this show.

Action moves fluidly between present and past as Amy embarks on a search for her absentee mother after finding a cassette filled with songs of love. The characters are well-developed and believable. The recorded music, arranged and performed by Tim King and Jason Brown, provides a satisfyingly full sound, blending well with Ms. Hulett's live guitar.

A few if the fifteen musical numbers seem contrived or too long, and the introduction of a new character towards the end of the second act is confusing rather than illuminating. The ending is a bit abrupt, coming as it does on the heels of a couple of teajerking songs without proper denouement, but I was too busy groping for a tissue for that to matter very much.

This show should resonate with people of a certain age (can we say ex-hippies?) as well as strike a chord with anyone who has ever loved and made a sacrifice for a child.

Songs For My Daughter plays at the Chesapeake Arts Center's Studio Theater weekends through May 23rd.

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