This has been the weekend to visit old friends. First was the Fritz Blitz’s rerun of Bets and Blue Notes. Now, admittedly one of my favorites, John Patrick Shanley’s charming blend of romance, dark comedy, music, and dance in New Village Arts’ production of Sailor’s Song.
Director Kristianne Kurner is again at the helm with repeats Amanda Morrow, Amanda Sitton, Robin Christ, and Manny Fernandes (but in a new role) being joined by Joshua Everett Johnson on stage. Much of the same design people joined in this new production.
Sailor’s Song has its dark side as Uncle John (Fernandez) is in limbo waiting for his cancer-riddled wife, Carla (Robin Christ), to pass on. There is his love of his wife that he never expressed to her in life. There is romance as Rich (Johnson) is torn between the beauty and intrigues of two women, Lucy (Amanda) – who is seriously falling in love with him – and the very strange Joan (Amanda Sitton) – who toys with him. There is fantasy in dance pieces heavily into Strauss. There are waltzes, of course, as well as ballets. There is romance expressed through the music and dance.
The dance of Rich with Lucy and Joan is sensual and very dramatic. Uncle John’s dance with Carla is passionate and captivating. Choreographer Robin Christ, who designed the original dance numbers last year, created an even more dynamic dance for herself and Fernandez this year. The show opens with music accompanying a monolog by Rich.
It seems that each play has some outstanding moments; with Sailor’s Song it is almost impossible to cite just one moment . . . the script and production are that good. However, there were a series of moments by Morrow that are unforgettable and truly fascinated me. This actress has the ability to react to another’s conversation by a mere change of her eyebrows, a twist of a lip, and absolutely no other physical manifestation. In one scene in which Rich appears captivated by the wiles of Joan, Lucy’s intense look told of the hurt, anger, jealousy, disappointment, and fear she felt of possibly losing him. I’m sure it telegraphed that to the entire audience.
The sound and lighting design (Adam Brick and Justin Hall) is dynamic. At times the audience is saturated with the passion of the music as the lighting enhances and changes the mood to fit the dialog.
Sailor’s Song goes to the heart of emotions. Just how is one supposed to react to the eminent and final death of a spouse? Is there a wrong way? How does a man react to the advances of a strange, very strange, yet captivating lady? How can he not see the love in the eyes of another? What is this thing called human interaction? Again, what is right and what is wrong? Playwright Shanley simply gives us his examples and leaves it for us to justify or not this scripted actions taking place on the stage or the events in our own lives.
I started this review with the admission that Sailor’s Song is one of my favorite plays and, if anything, this production surpasses last year’s offering. I quite naturally recommend it highly. It is an intense 80 minutes of drama, romance, music, dance, and boating in the lagoon (almost forgot that). The performances are as perfect as you’ll get on any stage. Each of the cast is totally believable. See it!
Joshua Everett Johnson, Amanda Morrow, Amanda Sitton, Manny Fernandes, Robin Christ
Light Design Justin Hall, Set Design Nick Fouch, Sound Design Adam Brick, Costume Design Amanda Sitton (base on original designs by Jessica John, SM Michelle Stan, Props (based on original designs by Lesley Fitzpatrick & Maggie Thompson)
Genre: Dark Comedy
Author: John Patrick Stanley
Director: Kristianne Kurner, Choreographer Robin Chirst
Date Reviewed: August 2, 2008
Dates: Thurs thru Sunday, August 2 – 28, 2008
Running Time: 80 minutes with no intermission
Caution Guidance: Adult language
New Village Arts Theatre
2787B State Street
Box Office Phone: 760 433-3245