Missed Musicals Make Way for Song Cycle

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21 & Over Offers Another Winner

By Warren Francke, The Reader 05.13.2012

Robbie Burns told me there would be weeks like this when the best-laid plans of mice and men would fall victim to the unexpected. And some lesser mortal made the point that the show and the weekly column must go on.

The plan? Review Spring Awakening Thursday at the Blue Barn, then catch Happy Days at the Chanticleer Community Theater in Council Bluffs. Troubled teens, than back to the ‘50s, as the headline promised.

Well, a cast member’s illness knocked out the Thursday performance at the Barn, and instead of catching either musical on Friday, I caught a cold accompanied by a cough that would have ruined the evening for anyone near me. Same problem Saturday, exacerbated by the fact that the Barn didn’t schedule a Sunday performance.

The big beneficiary turned out to be Chanticleer which won a daily review on Saturday instead of the expected review of the Barn musical.

And Cold Cream prospects that would be been pushed aside for reviews of Spring Awakening  and Happy Days now make the column. For example, I’d felt some frustration that I wouldn’t have room to again celebrate the 21 and Over series at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

This time resident director Amy Lane turned the Howard Drew space over to Cathy Hirsch and her Candy Project for Homemade Fusion, a song cycle by Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond. I’m writing this on Mother’s Day and that may be the reason that I’m reminded of my mother’s regular amazement that performers could remember all those lines.

In this case, it was my amazement on hearing so many songs I’d never heard before and understanding all the lyrics first time around. Thanks to director-singer Hirsch and 10 other vocalists, all 15 songs, from the opening “I Will Be Me,” to the finale, came across lucidly, allowing full appreciation of both the art and the artists.

It’s a great mix of bawdy humor—especially “To Excess,” with Steve Krambeck as a cheerful stalker, and Homero Vela with the title tune about self-pleasuring, and just plain funny material such as Megan McGuire’s “Oh Henry!” and DeAnna Langabee’s “Random Black Girl.”  But the more dramatic songs, from Sam Hartley singing “Lucy’s Laugh” to Roderick Cotton’s “Walking Without You” made even greater impact.

The consistency of this series bodes well for its season finale, Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl on June 18.

Meanwhile, you have more chances to catch the Barn and Chanticleer musicals, and I’ll write about them later. But this Thursday at 8 p.m. will be your only chance to see Skullsketch the Musical, an Andrew McGreevy creation at the Pizza Shoppe in Benson.

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

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