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May 17, 18, 19
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|Left to Right: Josh Perkins as Orphan; Ali Rice as Angel and David Flores as Mr. Rich|
in Windfall Theatre's production of CELEBRATION
Review by Julie McHale, Waukesha Freeman
It is rare to see two musicals by the same creative team in the same week. Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, best known for "The Fantasticks," presently playing at the Tenth Street Theatre, also collaborated in writing "Celebration," a less-performed but still delightful creation, well produced by Windfall Theatre, known for unearthing dramatic gems. Schmidt and Jones also enjoyed success with "I Do I Do."
This play contrasts light and darkness, generosity and greed, life and death, and joy and despair. It employs a narrator, just as "The Fantasticks" does, one who offers commentary as the story proceeds and also plays the character Potemkin. Shayne Steliga has both the presence and the voice to give the role the stature it needs. He provides the wisdom that a fable typically conveys.
The rather naïve orphan, played by Josh Perkins, symbolizes innocence and longing. He is still hopeful that he will find his lost garden. Then we meet two other important characters – Mr. Rich, so beautifully portrayed by David Flores, and Angel, nicely rendered by Alicia Rice. Angel wants to become a TV star, or so she thinks. Because she sees fame as a more desirable commodity than love, she initially scorns the advances of the Orphan. He can’t provide her with the fame and fortune that she sees as the ultimate goal.
Mr. Rich has lost his zest for life, having achieved wealth but little else with his varied inventions. He has all his mirrors covered because he can’t face his mortality and his loveless life. Flores brings depth to the role. His ability to be both comedic and dramatic, along with his lovely voice, all serve him well as this character.
The rest of the cast of seven provides movement and ensemble music, both significant contributions to the beauty of the whole.
Angel is seen as the answer to Mr. Rich’s boredom and inability to experience emotion, and she sees him as her pathway to success, though she has second thoughts when she compares him to the young, hopeful Orphan, to whom she is more naturally attracted.
Alicia Rice has a clear, pure soprano voice and also moves with grace. The chorus takes on multiple roles as needed to tell the story but are most effective when they are the cleverly masked revelers. The whole strong and melodic ensemble participates in most of the songs.
Though none of the tunes have a life outside the story, many of them echo some of the musical motifs heard in "The Fantasticks." Orphan and Angel meld nicely in "Love Song" and "Under the Tree." "Where Did It Go" and "Bored" are Mr. Rich’s strongest numbers, and "Celebration" that begins and ends the story is very nicely executed by the whole group.
Carol Zippel’s overall direction along with the musical direction of Paula Foley Tillen, the choreography of Alicia Rice and the costume design of Liz Shipe all combine to provide lovely entertainment and a reminder to celebrate the wonders of our precarious, lovely little lives while we have them.