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LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
By Miriam Colin
Free of ambition / Just sequins and submission.— from a lyric summarizing The Grid's mantra.
Full disclosure: I'm not an Ann Rand fan. I outgrew her most famous novel Fountainhead right in the middle of reading it. I did read Atlas Shrugged, but it didn't convert me.
I never read her 1937 futuristic novella about a world in which people are organized into something called The Grid, where individuality is eschewed for "the common good." That is, by all but a more thoughtful fellow named Prometheus and a group of anti-Grid rebels out to to topple the regime.
Scene from Anthem, the sci-fi musical
Yet, my coolness vis-a-vis all things Ann Rand turned to curiosity by what seems to be the theater world's sudden renewed interest in that more obscure novella. And so when Curtainup's editor asked me if I'd like to follow up on last year's review of a more straightforward adaptation (Review of the play ) and check out the world premiere of Anthem, the sci-fi musical, curiosity got the best of me.
I can't say the two and a half hours I spent at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre were a total waste, but neither did Gary Morgenstein's libretto inspire me to rush home to get a reading copy of Rand's book. It's a story with all the originality of countless second tier movies and self-published books about an inevitably awful world. However,
Morgenstern hasn't made a theatrical silk purse out of this all too familiar, tacky tale. Nor is the music by composer Jonnie Rockwell and lyricist Erik Ransom any less mundane.
What retrieves Anthem, the musical, from being hopelessly tedious is the work done by Rachel Klein. The multi-talented Klein has made this unexceptional addition to the musical theater visually lively with her peppy choreography, apt costumes and direction of the energetic and committed cast. She has managed to turn Rand's ham-fisted, polemical fiction into a high energy theatrical enterprise. In their glittery silver outfits, the cast members dance around the stage like so many unarmored tin knights with Rand's "rulers" in pitch black. There are also some mighty impressive acrobatics.
Here's wishing Ms. Klein better source material to work with in future.
Anthem, a sci-fi musical|
Book by Gary Morgenstein, inspired by Ayn Rand novella
Music by Jonnie Rockwell and lyrics by Erik Ransom
Direction, Choreography and Costumes by Rachel Klein
Cast: Jason Gotay, Remy Zaken Randy Jones Ashley Kate Adams, Jenna Leigh Green, Damia,n Thompson, Emily S. Grosland, Patch David, Shiloh Goodin, Jamyl Dobson, Katie Lee Hill, Crista Marie Jackson, Brian Ferree
Set: Robert Andrew Kovach
Lighting: Kryssy Wright
Running Time: Approx 21/2 hours
Culture Project's Lynn Redgrave Theatre
From 5/20/14; opening 5/29/14; closing 7/06/14--closed unexpectedly 6/22/14
Reviewed by Miriam Colin 5/30/14
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