I spent six hours this past weekend watching some wonderfully talented productions. I am not a big fan of musicals, so I was positive that I would dislike them all. But to my immense surprise, I loved one, I was uplifted by another, and I was led on a journey by a boy with a beautiful voice. Here I recount my musical journey through the Middle Tennessee theater scene.
The first show I saw was She Loves Me at Murfreesboro Little Theatre directed by Andy Ford. I am always excited to see a show directed by Ford, I typically expect the best from him and this time he most definitely delivered. This show is my pick for a must see this month. The brand-new-to-the-stage Nick Dearing, who played Georg Nowack, has a wonderful voice and will win you over with his performance. My hope is that he enjoyed his experience and will show us more of what he has. Ford really did his job well with Dearing. He was able to bring out emotions and facial expressions that with just a brief glance you knew what he was thinking. Emily Lowery gave great musical talent to Amalia Balash. One suggestion I have to improve this role is to show a little more emotion! The singing was wonderful but the depth of the character did not quite match that of Nowack’s. Amalia’s character struck me as being dramatic and polar based on dialogue and lyrics; I just wish I had gotten a little more out of it!
This show is also supported by talented clerks that worked in the shop that both Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash worked at. The brought both humor and common sense to this show. Gentlemen, when watching this show make sure you hold onto your ladies because Mr. Kodaly is a wily one.
The set of She Loves Me was the best set that I saw this weekend. It was minimalistic in a good way, and it gave you what you needed to see and no more. It was wonderfully designed, with three different settings and each turn took you to the place you needed to see. The revolving doors in the middle of the set were a great idea and added such dimension to the shop. A wonderful heart decorated the floor and really helped set the mood for this adorable romantic comedy.
I also saw Legally Blonde at the Arts Center of Cannon County directed by Mary Ellen Smith. Legally Blonde is one show that should have never seen the stage. However upbeat and bubbly this musical may be, my recommendation is to stick to the original movie. It just did not translate into a musical very well. That being said I truly did like this performance. The actual quality of the production was fantastic. It morally uplifted me in a way that no show has ever done, in a slightly feminist way. Lindsey Mapes plays the witty, intelligent, yet occasionally stereotypical dumb blonde named Elle Woods. She had a voice that I would like to hear again and I hope she continues to grow and develop her talents. However, she didn’t bring anything different to the role that we haven’t seen before, which is unfortunate; some originality would have been nice. Emmett Forest played by Drew Jenkins was my favorite character in this show. He showed enough nerdiness, backbone and love to be believed. He was the most genuine and believable character. There was a feel that you could actually go enjoy a beer with this character. My second favorite set of characters was the Delta Nus. They were sufficiently annoying and supportive. They were true friends to Elle Woods and were there when she needed them.
The only thing not enjoyable about this show was its shoddy set. It should have been sent back to the drawing board and thought out thoroughly. It was too pink, too large and poorly put together. The set looks like one good sneeze from an audience member would blow it down like the big bad wolf. A more subtle set would have been more enjoyable and easier on the eyes.
The last show I saw was 13 the Musical at Murfreesboro Center for the Arts directed by Kim Powers. This show was the least enjoyable to me. But I will attribute that to the fact that I am not 13, and I am not trying to find my place in this world, which is the main theme behind this show. I was most impressed by Adam LaPorte and Ellen Robertson who played Evan Goldman and Patrice, respectively. They had to be the most talented main couple that I have seen in a while. They are the reason I enjoyed this show; the rest of it was just filler. Don’t misunderstand me, the rest of cast was very talented. They almost all had great voices and we got to see Lydia McLaurin again; she was as good in this as she was in Beauty and the Beast Jr. I am becoming accustomed to seeing her, and so far, she hasn’t disappointed. She has even shown that she can perform different types of roles very well.
I did not like this set, the main reason being is that it was almost all on castors, and the biggest, nicest part of the set was only seen twice. Powers should have just stuck to the black curtains and black boxes. I was under the impression that this entire show was Evan Goldman’s memories; if that was the case, this idea would have fit the show much better.
To sum up this outrageously musical weekend, I must admit that I am sung out. I was very pleased to come out of each respective theater smiling and feeling good. All three of these shows will have you sated and warmed inside. With several more chances to see all of these July shows, I recommend that you make reservations . . . and tell your friends! Make sure if you go see one of these shows you comment on this article and we can have some fun discussing our viewpoints.