Modern-Day Musical Makes World Premiere at WHAT
By: Susan Blood, June 19, 2012
KARCHMER PHOTO - Andrew Guilarte, Crystal Arnette and Alex Herrald star in 'The Consequences' at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.
I need to say right up front that I don't like musicals. I don't like how contrived they seem-how the songs come out of nowhere and are shoe-horned to fit into the storyline. But as soon as you say you don't like something, you realize there are exceptions.
Nathan Leigh and Kyle Jarrow's The Consequences, playing at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater through July 7, is one of those exceptions. It's more like going to a bar, seeing a live band and hearing a story all at once. Think of liner notes coming to life while you listen to a new album—except it's live.
See it first...
A musical by Nathan Leigh and Kyle Jarrow
Directed by Kel Haney
Performances Thursdays - Mondays at 8 PM through July 7
2357 Route 6, Wellfleet
Tickets are $15-35 ($10 for students, senior discount available). Purchase online at www.what.org
The set is a bar in New Jersey, complete with a band set up in the corner. I suspect a lot of research was put into discovering what an authentic bar looks like: it’s perfect, with a worn out floor, a mix of stuff on the walls and some troll dolls that come in handy later.
Roughly a third of the stage is taken up by the band, with their own sound system and lights. They're set up for a gig, providing props in the process. It looks authentic because it is authentic.
This might be a good time to mention that WHAT has a bar in the lobby and you are welcome to take your drink into the theater. Then you'll really feel like you're watching a gig.
A modern-day romance
Directed by Kel Haney, the play's self-referential aspects make the show fun to watch. While Jeremy (Alex Herrald) is in the real spotlight, Ellie (Crystal Arnette) watches him on her iPhone 3,000 miles away—with the phone performing double-duty as a practical light.
The characters frequently let on that they know they're in a play, with great lines and perfect comic timing. Costume changes happen discretely onstage, keeping the pace moving. Between the lighting by John Malinowski, costumes by Anne Miggins, and set by Ted Vitale, the momentum carries through several changes of venue and timeline. There is no intermission and no down time.
Arnette essentially plays two different characters: the carefree, 18-year-old Ellie and jaded, 28-year-old Ellie. It was fascinating to watch her alternate between the two versions of herself.
As Jeremy, Herrald has spent his whole life being told what to do. He's “worked through” all the things that would have made him an interesting person. His best moment is when he writes a song at Ellie's request.
A new direction for WHAT?
The narrator, Andrew Ramcharan Guilarte, is a constant presence. He is the only one who is certain of who he is and what he's doing (besides the band). He's like a genie that un-grants wishes and helps the characters navigate their own story.
The band was Charlie Gregson on keyboard, Jordan Parris on drums, Nicholas Suchecki on bass and clarinet and composer Nathan Leigh sitting in on guitar.
In The Consequences, the songs are time-saving devices in which the actors distill pages of dialog and explanation into song. Usually when I see actors gearing up for a song, I brace myself. Here, I settle in for a quantum plot leap.
The company's Board President and CEO Bruce Bierhans said at the curtain speech that this was the first WHAT-produced musical. He hoped it was the first of many.
I'm not sure I'd go that far, but if they can manage to find another musical I don't hate, I'll be sure to go see it.