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A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
Fall Springs
I only hear what I want to hear!— Mayor Robert Bradley
Fall Springs
Alyse Alan Louis and Ken Marks who play Eloise and Noland,
Fall Springs, a small town somewhere in America, is in trouble. The essential oil wells underground have dried up and so have the town council's ideas on how to reinvigorate their failing economy. The show's creators, Nikos Tsakalakos (music and lyrics) and Peter Sinn Nachtreib (book and lyrics) along with director Stephen Brackett have created a very stimulating and comic view of, all things, Hydraulic Fracking. Aided by an energetic and comedic cast,it is a big cartoon send –up of a very serious problem.

In the opening musical number, the cameras are rolling as the desperate Mayor Robert Bradley (Matt McGrath) and the rest of the town perform an over-the-top tourism infomercial touting the glories of life in this fast-fading region and inviting visitors to their semi-centennial celebration.

McGrath's mayor with his permanent toothpaste commercial smile and boyish energy hearkens back to the 1950's mind set of an American "can do" attitude. Beverly Cushman, played by the deliciously rubber-faced Ellen Harvey, also a member of the town council, has other ideas which she is surreptitiously putting into place. As the CEO of the essential oil industry, part Cruella DeVille and part Natasha, the femme fatale of "Rocky and Bullwinkle," she convinces the town board to allow hydro-fracking and thereby hangs the story of Fall Springs.

Baton twirling Veronica Mitford (Felicia Finley) is the wacky real estate agent who longs for a vampire lover. Roberto Mariposa (Eliseo Romain) is the town'sdancing tourism agent and their combined antics round out the very humorously able adult cast members.

The opposing force to the town council's plan, consists of their children led by the mayor's daughter Eloise, the perfectly nerdy science girl played by Alyse Alan Louis who has been with the production since its first reading at New Dramatists. Her mom, a geologist, died while trying to collect data in order to warn the residents of Fall Springs about their underground ticking time bomb of a geological collapse. The dramatic conflict between father and daughter is the pursuit of science what he lost his wife to and what his daughter is compelled to follow.

The misfit children of the single parents play in a band called "Impending Doom" whose song "Sinking into Oblivion," unbeknownst to them, is more than a little accurate. This sets up a series of very irreverently clever songs that pit their misguided parents against the kids who realize that the elders' actions are destroying the planet.

. L.E. Barone, Vera, the rebellious "tomboy" lesbian daughter of Roberto, along with Jorrel Javier asVeronica's son Cooper (an Elmer's Glue sniffing live wire) prove that the fruit does not fall far from the tree where wackiness is concerned. They are terrific in their extreme need to be anywhere but Fall Springs and be anyone but who they are. The band is their hope for escape.

Sam Heidt as Felix, in an affecting performance, tries to balance his slavish devotion to the scientific Eloise with his need to support his mother Beverly's corporate stance. In the song "A Bass Player's Lament" he sums up the feelings of every teenaged loser who sees himself as second rate.

Noland Wolanske ( Ken Marks) is the town crank and former geologist who everyone blames for the death of the mayor's wife, an avid geologist who had correctly foretold of the disaster. He sings like Woody Guthrie and insists, like Cassandra from the Greek myths, that doom is upon them; as in ancient times, no one listens.

Act two is more formulaic as the four council members and their kids are trapped underground on the now submerged semi-centennial stage. As the characters confront each other disaster-movie- style, trying to figure out how to prevent their oblivion and also reconcile with each other, the story takes on the reality of total destruction. Though the characters find a way to mend, the land will not, at least in the foreseeable future. On many levels Fall Springs exists all over this and other countries, where human greed and short-sighted policies may have doomed the next generation. The frenetic pace and hilarity of the show never suppresses its premise.

The miniature cardboard, almost Lionel Railroad-like set by Tim Mackabee, is versatile and allows the action to adapt easily between the town before and after the disaster. Lighting by David Lander and sound design by Josh Millican create the special effects of the town's demise in a light-hearted and impressive display worthy of a disaster flick.

One problem though is the over-mic-ing of the singers, which blurs the very clever lyrics and adds a level of piercing screech to the songs. Less is more!!!

This might not be on the level of a major hit but the story is politically pointed and the acting and music campy enough to make for what is probably the most entertaining evening about hydro fracking that anyone could ever imagine. Though it could stand some cutting (a bit more than two hours in length) how could a show which ends with a rousing tribute to survival, called "One Arm" fail to please?

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Fall Springs
Music & Lyrics by Niko Tsakalakos; Book and Lyrics by Peer Sinn Nachtrieb
Directed by Stephen Brackett
Choreographed by Patrick McCollum
Music Direction: Mike Pettry
Cast: Matt McGrath (Mayor Robert Bradley) Eliseo Roman (Roberto Mariposa) Felicia Finley (Veronica Mitford) Ellen Harvey (Beverly Cushman) Sam Heldt (Felix Cushman) L. E. Barone (Vera Mariposa) Jorrel Javier (Cooper Mitford) Alyse Alan Louis (Eloise Bradley) Ken Marks (Noland Wolanske)
Scenic Design: Tim Mackabee
Costume Design: Emily Rebholz
Lighting Design: David Lander
Sound Design: Josh Millican
Wig Designer Mary Schilling-Martin
Stage Manager: Renee Lutz
Running Time: Two hours-thirty minutes; one intermission
Barrington Stage Company Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, Pittsfield, MA
From 8/9/19; closing 8/31/19
Reviewed by Gloria Miller at the August 14th performance.

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