Triangle is a bittersweet musical at the Lucie Stern Theatre.

Brian (Ross Lekites) explains the connection they share with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to Ben (Zachary Prince) as a vision of Sarah (Megan McGinnis) lingers in the background in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s World Premiere of Triangle playing
July 8 – August 2 at the Lucie Stern Theatre
in Palo Alto.
Photo by Kevin Berne

TRIANGLE: Musical Drama. Music by Curtis Moore. Lyrics by Thomas Mizer. Book by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore, & Joshua Scher. Directed by Meredith McDonough. TheatreWorks, Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA. (650) 463-1960 or www.TheatreWorks.org.  July 8 – August 2, 2015

Triangle is a bittersweet musical at the Lucie Stern Theatre. Rating: ★★★☆☆

Triangle was the audience favorite at the TheatreWorks 2012 New Works Festival and in the intervening years has been workshopped at various venues ending with a one week full production at the Lyric Theater in Oklahoma City.  Sharon Rietkerk and Megan McGinnes who played the roles at the Lyric along with musical director James Sampliner have been retained for this ‘World premiere’ by TheatreWorks. It was a wise choice. Both actors, as well as three others play dual roles that span a century.

The title is reference to the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 in New York City. Of the 146 lives that were lost mostly were women some as young as 13. Many had to jump through windows from the ninth floor because the profit oriented owners of the factory had locked the doors to prevent pilferage and the substandard fire escapes collapsed from the heat. Fourteen of the dead were never identified. A story circulated that a young man and woman kissed before she jumped to her death.  Who they were is a mystery that is the substructure of the storyline that shifts between 20th to the 21st Centuries.

The Triangle Building still stands and the fateful ninth floor is occupied by closeted Brian (Ross Lekites)  a brilliant young NYU researcher. On the 100th year anniversary of the fire he sees an apparition of Sarah (Megan McGinnis) that he feels is real but cannot be seen by anyone else. Sarah is a Jewish immigrant you has been hired as a seamstress because of her speed at the sewing machines. She also has beauty and a perceptive mind that attracts Italian Catholic Vincenzo (Zachary Prince). Friendship turns into love and is the beginning of conflict with her old world Jewish Father Isaac (Rolf Saxon). This is the love story from the past.

The modern day love story involves closet Brian and Jewish Ben. Ben is in the Triangle building because of his desire to see the “infamous room” where the disaster took place. As Brian develops an obsession about the unknown lovers a tenuous tertiary story is postulated based on a necklace that may suggest Ben’s familial tie to Sarah. There is an attempt to tie in the disaster of 9/11 with the Triangle fire but it does not ring true.

The past love story is by far the most interesting. It allows the introduction of Sarah’s sister Chaya (Sharon Rietkerk) and their father Isaac creating a conflict necessary to prove that true love never runs true. The scene that includes heated yet humorous banter between Isaac and Ben with Chaya and Sarah as intermediaries is one of the best of the evening.  The love story in the present time between Ben and Brian lacks depth and is salvaged by their great singing voices.

The music switches from contemporary pop for the story of Ben and Brian to more traditional style for the past love story of Sarah and Vincenzo. All the actors are in great voice and brought forth some tears from the audience. Ross Lekites as Brian is superb as the only character without a double part and has a magnificent singing voice.  Zachary Prince’s quick personality change from Ben to Vincezo is smooth and believable as are Sharon Rietkerk’s switches in her double role.  Megan McGinnis does great justice to the pivotal role as Sarah without allowing her secondary role in the modern love story to denigrate her performance.

Accolades go to musical director James Sampliner on the keyboard and conductor of the six piece orchestra. Meredith McDonough’s admirable directorial skill is the star of the evening. She keeps the two storylines distinct on Daniel Zimmerman’s deceptively simple beautiful monochromatic set.

CAST: Laura D’Andre as Theresa/Dr. Z; Ross Lekites as Brian; Megan McGinnis as Sarah/Jenni;  Zachary Prince as Ben/Vincenzo; Sharon Rietkerk as Cynthia/Chaya; and Rolf Saxon as Howard/Boss/Isaac.

ARTISTIC CAST: Directed by Meredith McDonough; Musical Director, James Sampliner; Scenic Designer, Daniel Zimmerman; Costume Designer,Cathleen Edwards; Lighting Designer, Paul Toben; Sound Designer, Brendan Aanes; Casting Director; Leslie Martinson; New York Casting Director, Alan Filderman; Stage Manager,Justin D. Schlegel ; Assistant Stage Manager,Emily Anderson Wolf.

Running time two hours and 30 minutes with on intermission. Recommendation: Should see.

Kedar K. Adour,  MD

Courtesy of www.theatrworldinternetmagazine.com.

Brian (Ross Lekites) explains the connection they share with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to Ben (Zachary Prince) as a vision of Sarah (Megan McGinnis) lingers in the background in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s World Premiere of Triangle playing
July 8 – August 2 at the Lucie Stern Theatre
in Palo Alto.