Monthly Archive for: ‘June, 2016’

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A Beautiful Glass

 A Beautiful Glass. Musical. Book and Lyrics by Tony Lienitz (additional lyrics by Annabel Marks).  Composed by  Jeremy Erman, Andrew Lu, Annabel Marks, Leanne Miron, Jeremy Stamos and Peter Willitis. Directed by Tanna Herr and Tony Lienitz. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina Blvd., San Francisco, CA. and Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA.

 Tackling the issue of teen suicide head on, A Beautiful Glass is performed by a fantastically talented troupe of enthusiastic young actors who are full of promise and energy.  The large ensemble is asked to sing, dance and play multiple roles, and it’s a joy to watch some sparkling individual performances. That said, the play itself, which starts out with so much potential in Act One, jumps the shark in the long winded and confusing second act, losing its focus and its impact.

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The plot follows Justin Capps (Atticus Shaindlin), a tortured soul who loses friends and family to suicide at an alarming rate and his budding romance with Georgianna (Emily Liberatore), a novice astronomer searching to discover a new supernova. The structure is a dreamlike flashback to a series of suicides as Georgianna tries to understand Justin’s obsession with finding not just prevention, but a cure. High school friends kill themselves over bullying, prescription med side effects, depression and anorexia, all played out in nicely staged tableaus in Justin’s mind.  Ali Arian Molaei has a brilliant comic turn as a camp scout who’s survived eight lightning strikes only to die unrequited love. Atticus Shaindlin and Emily Liberatore are two wonderful actors who bring a touch of sympathy and poignant elegance to their roles.

Act One has three well written musical numbers: the ensemble sing “Good Luck With That” where Justin is a doctor dispensing quack cures for a laundry list of increasingly ridiculous ailments, “Star Song”, sung by Georgianna about her special connection to the universe, and the lovely “It’s a Beautiful Glass”, a duet between Justin and his grandfather about the unifying connection to life. Ali Arian Molaei, Quincy Shaindlin, Shayan Hooshmand and Jackson Wylder have a field day with their multiple roles, reinforcing their already burgeoning theater resumes. Their, and the rest of the ensembles future’s look bright indeed.

The second act is troublesome. Having established Justin and Georgianna’s relationship, the story veers away from his search for the cure into a dialogue on what constitutes a suicide, to a confusing subplot about famous people who may or may not have committed suicide. Georgianna’s older friend (played by Jackson Wylder) goes off to Iraq to prove his manliness to his father, only to be blown up by a suicide bomber. Was this a suicide on his part? His actual bomber Malik, played by Shayan Hooshmand) and the company sing “Count What They Bless”, a flip side perspective on his deadly purpose.

There are odd scenes involving Sylvia Plath, a known suicide, Cleopatra and Vincent Van Gough, whom the author suggests were actually murdered, and a strange sequence about an actress named Hazel that I did not understand at all. There’s a very funny bit about the 17 suicides throughout Shakespeare’s works and a silly children’s lullaby sung by a nun (Elizabeth McCole) that turns out to be a sailor’s tale of cannibalism and murder. The choreography by multi-talented Ali Arian Molaei is hip and modern.

Justin and Georgianna take a standby role throughout much of the second act, allowing the ensemble a chance to shine, but it’s a muddled mess that had me scratching my head.  There’s a tidy reprise of “It’s a Beautiful Glass” and I guess all is well with the troubled Justin who enter rehab for his own suicidal thoughts. It’s too bad the promise and potential of act one goes unfulfilled. A Beautiful Glass bites off a little more than it can chew, notwithstanding the fine acting by its gifted cast.

 Performance at MVCPA- June 18th – June 25th. www.mvcpa.com  650.903.6000