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A CurtainUp Review
Original Review at Second Stage
Though Ms. Scott has been quoted as saying that this is a show with four performers, it is basically a solo showcase for her beauty and likeability, very personal style of song interpretation and delivery, not to mention her gifts as a story teller. Her two almost constant sidekicks, Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe, are excellent, though their "Mennonites" are not very different from other groups of backup singers. The other performer listed in the program, Eamon Foley, is a genuinely surprising and enjoyable surprise guest star. Though he appears only briefly he adds mightily to the overall energy and fun. No matter how you classify Everyday Rapture, Ms. Scott, her colleagues, the 5-piece onstage band and the pacey and colorful staging all give this musical journey a rich, full-bodied flavor.
The autobiographical aspects of the plot— a journey of self-enabling selfdiscovery— clearly connect the character named Sherie Rene Scott and the sultry-voiced attractive Sherie Rene Scott who narrates her story. It's a bit like the Philip Roth character in novelist Roth's Operation Shylock.
The real Sherie has appeared in enough Broadway shows (most recently in The Little Mermaid; also Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Aida) to make her tagging herself as "a semi-star" a case of modest self-mockery. Like her fictional alter-ego, the "real" Scott was brought up in a Menonite household in Topeka, Kansas, a city which apparently boasts as many churches as Colorado City, the setting of the recent This Beautiful City (review).
Over the course of the ninety intermissionless minutes, you'll learn the difference between being Amish and Mennonite (Mennonite is "Amsh-light") and that the custom of rumspringa, which means "running around," is based on the belief that if young church members are given a year off from being Mennonite they will return to the fold. For the show's Sherie rumspringa lasted 27 years of trying reconcile the religious Kansas upbringing with the needs of the "semi-star" Broadway baby— not an easy to achieve goal considering that the Mennoties believe that being prepared for the Rapture means solo show-biz singing is a sure path to eternal hellfire, and also the young Sherie's exposure to the scary intonations from a local fire and brimstone religious leader named Pastor Fred. Fortunately, Sherie was also exposed to a more open-minded view of life by TV's Mr. Rogers.
There's a thematic bit of business about two slips of paper handed to Sherie by a Hasidic Jew ("who could have been a Buddhist") that freed her from being a good little Mennonite "speck of dust" and allow herself to approach the world as "a place created for me." Though corny as Kansas, this does work as the leitmotif for Sherie's journey towards making the concept of the Rapture accommodate her everyday spiritual and worldly needs.
As for the music, this has enough sources to fall into a new genre: a mixed jukebox musical. Singers and songwriters referenced include David Byrne, Sharon Jones, the Dap-Kings and, of course, the Johnny Mercer/Harry Warren "Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe." Since "Atchison. . ." was made famous by Judy Garland and Judy was an icon for the young Sherie, this also paves the way for two more Judy songs via one of several projections: "Get Happy." and "You Made Me Love You," the latter amusingly illustrated with a series of cheeky images of Jesus. All the music is artfully arranged by Next to Normal composer Tom Kitt and enlivened by Michelle Lynch's choreography.
A very fresh YouTube interlude with Eamon Foley is introduced by a bit of fourth wall breaking that is a hilarious high point that you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate. Ultimately, this sort of stage memoir, even though disguised as fiction, does tend to be a bit narcisstic as Scott herself admits though she came to realize " I can be narcissistic, and still be nice." The lovely to look at and listen to and thoroughly endearing narcissist at the center of The Everyday Rapture is not just nice but a star -- not a semi-star but a true hyphen-less, capitalized Star.
Elyse Sommer reviewed Everyday Rapture premiered at Second Stage 307 West 43rd Street on May 1st. It ran from 4/07/09; opening 5/03/09; closing 5/17/09 and extended to 6/14/09. Production details were the same as listed in the above updated review on Broadway.