Virginia City

musicals and operas · wisehart productions · Ages 13+ · United States

family friendly world premiere
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June 16, 2012 certified reviewer

My overall impression

Don’t give up! This musical has a solid heart, and while assuredly in its adolescence, I feel it has strong merit.

The striking issue to me is the lack of a clear concept. If this is a show about Samuel Clemens becoming Mark Twain, why is the most dramatic conflict in his life taking place several yards offstage? Why is the lead romantic couple two auxiliary characters? What are the consequences for the world of the show (the bar, the dancers, the clientele, etc) from Sam’s transformation, and how does that effect his decision?

I feel as though the music can make a solid decision. Does this show – as I first experiences it, and dearly hoped it would be, so my bias is declared – want to live as a Honky-Tonk “period” piece that comments on the world in which it is set by a piano-bar orchestration, perhaps setting the pianist on-stage and implicating him as a character? I also adored the use of harmony and counterpoint throughout the piece – that’s a solid strength to capitalize on.
Alternatively, does this show pull a Jason Robert Brown in Parade and utilize the combined weight of the Rodgers and Hammerstein formula, the fearless Sondheim syncopated musical atonalities and the trend of Broadway musicals to provide a rich instrumentation inspired by the period in which they are set, but not married to?

Firmly deciding on that core musical binary will launch this show in the right direction.

Otherwise, I had a lovely time. More than anything else, I’m excited about the further development of this piece. It has an awesome story to tell; it’s just figuring out precisely how it needs to tell it.

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