Sunday, May 19, 2002
Go around world with six summer plays
By LAURA STEWART | News-Journal Fine Arts Writer
DAYTONA BEACH — When the curtain goes up on "Once on This Island" June 6, Seaside Music Theater will send its audience on the first of a series of exotic tours.
The next stop after the Caribbean island is Singapore in the '40s, followed by a visit to a Philadelphia in the midst of revolution. The tour continues with Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Gondoliers" in 18th century Venice, and winds up in foggy London during Jack the Ripper's reign of terror, with "Jekyll & Hyde." Along the way, there are jaunts to Tuscany for the children's show, "Pinocchio."
Yet the audience never leaves the theater seat, in SMT Downtown or at the DBCC Theater Center. More than in past seasons, Seaside will travel far and wide this summer, said Gary Cadwallader, Seaside's director of education. It's not just the sites — all real places — that make the travel so exciting.
"There are universal themes in all of the shows, and they're all entertaining," said Cadwallader, who is also director of "Pinocchio" and plays John Adams in "1776." "They take place in different periods, and they deal with different human experiences. But the musicals are all about the freedom that comes from self-discovery.
"In 'Pinocchio,' the wooden boy has to go through a long journey, a series of life experiences," said Cadwallader. "In the end, he discovers what it takes to be 'real' — compassion, love, a willingness to sacrifice himself for someone else: Geppetto, his father."
The summer season's ability to transport audiences far and wide is central to the idea of theater itself, said Julia David son Truilo, Seaside's associate producer. "You don't have to have an airline ticket, and you don't need a passport. This is one of the magical things theater can do — it's the only experience that can take you away to real or imaginary places, to other peoples' stories, to other times.
"It's a trip audience and actors take together; theater is one of the few communal experiences we have," she said. "Part of the joy of theater is being transported, sharing the experience."
This summer's experiences draw on the experiences and skills of a large team, everyone from the actors on stage, to set and costume designers, musicians and conductors, choreographers and directors and lighting and sound experts.
The shows are as follows:
"Once on This Island": June 6 to 23. Based on a novel by Rosa Guy, "My Love, My Love," the show debuted on Broadway in 1990 and ran for over a year. Its story of a Haitian peasant girl who falls in love with a boy from a wealthy family is based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid." At the DBCC Theater Center on the Daytona Beach Community College campus.
"Song of Singapore": June 13 to July 21. The madcap musical's off-Broadway debut was in 1991 at the Song of Singapore Cafe, where it ran for 459 performances. The setting at SMT Downtown plays a major part, as the first few rows feature table seating with food and beverage service to create the ambience of a seedy night club. The music is a blend of '40s jazz, and the story is a parody that revolves around the torch singer (Denise Davidson) whose amnesia lifts hilariously at the show's end.
"1776": June 27 to July 14. Seaside's July Fourth tribute looks back to the roots of American patriotism, and to the era's spirit of revolution and independence. The original Broadway musical opened in 1969 and ran almost three years. Seaside's production, directed by Lester Malizia, features historically accurate sets of Independence Hall, re-created by designer Bob Fetterman. At the DBCC Theater Center.
"The Gondoliers": July 18 to 28. Although the comic Gilbert and Sullivan original premiered in London on Dec. 7, 1899, at the Savoy Theater, and opened on Broadway in 1890, the action is set in the classic Venice of Canaletto's paintings. Not only does the operetta feature the lively patter songs that are Gilbert and Sullivan's forte, it entertains with the story of two brothers who are gondoliers, and who are both getting married. But problems emerge: One brother seems to be a prince, and his family comes looking for him. At the DBCC Theater Center.
"Jekyll & Hyde": Aug. 1 to 18. Set in gloomy late-19th-century London, "Jekyll & Hyde" plunges into the psychological story of the brilliant Dr. Henry Jekyll and his blood-thirsty dark side, Edward Hyde. The original show, with music by Frank Wildhorn, opened on Broadway in 1997 and ran through January 2000. The story is a classic that explores the duality of human nature and the struggle between good and evil, told with macabre and melodramatic flourishes as well as a romantic pop-music score. At the DBCC Theater Center.
"Pinocchio": June 21 to Aug. 17. At 45 minutes to an hour, the fairy tale story of a wooden puppet who wants to become a "real boy" is the shortest of Seaside's summer shows. Written more than a century ago by a retired military officer, "Pinocchio" was set in the author's Tuscan hometown, Collodi. Seaside's "Pinocchio" is fantastic and funny, but also tells how a figure carved from a little pine seed ("pinocchio") is magically animated, yet not alive until he learns the meaning of love.
HICI Special Report — Summer "Ho-hum" or Summer Fun:
Try "Play"ing Around