musicals and operas the collective beat ensemble · Ages 12+ · United States of America
Review by DANIEL FAIGINJune 25, 2018 certified reviewer
What I liked
I thought the performances were great, the songs were very strong, and the story was mostly there. Full writeup at https://cahighways.org/wordpress/?p=14469
What I didn't likeThe musical focuses on all a lot of real characters (all the characters correspond to real people). It pays a lot of attention to real relationships that developed between subsets of the characters in real life, and it is clear all — or most — of the characters knew each other at some point. So is this a real story, based on research? Is it a version of Million Dollar Quartet, where it is an imagined interaction between the characters? To what extent is this fictional; and if it is, where are the fictional characters? Further, being built around real characters makes it much harder to have a protagonist who has a quest or a want for something, and goes on that journey to achieve it, finding something else along the way. None of that is made clear.
My overall impression
[There were some story problems, but…] , it doesn’t need to be [perfect]… yet. This is a Fringe musical, in its second mounting (the first was in the UCLA Botanical Gardens). It still has a substantial gestation period and dramaturgy to go through prior to a major mounting. For what it is, the maturity was remarkable. The music itself was pretty strong, although a few songs sounded similar. I particularly liked the “Land of Cardigans” song about Barnard, and the number sung by Kerouac on the ukulele about the blues. For the most part, the songs seemed not to be novelty numbers; they did what songs in a musical should do — move the story along. I’ll note that the group developing this musical is all out of the UCLA Musical Theatre program; as a UCLA grad myself (BS ’82, MS ’85, School of Engineering), I can confidently say the high quality must be in part from the excellent education they received there 🙂 ). Full writeup at https://cahighways.org/wordpress/?p=14469