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A CurtainUp Berkshires Report

Travels With My Discontent: A New Musical Revue

Cranwell Resort

The Porches Inn

Note: this is NOT a review! Barrington Stage's idea of offering Berkshire theater goers to experience the work of new musical theater talent got off to an impressive start with Burnt Part Boys which I did review (the review ). This was a full-bodied book musical. Though the staging was minimalist, the talent was not, and the bare bones production values were so ingenious that they actually enhanced the show.

When the second slated LAB production, another book musical, ran into problems due to the illness of one of the creative team members, the LAB's artistic producer William Finn gamely put together a replacement. Naturally, the always challengingly short rehearsal time of summer theater productions became even more of a challenge.

Finn stepped up to the plate as director and smartly built on the good will generated by Burnt Part Boys and used that show's talented Charlie Brady along with three first-rate performers with solid Broadway credentials. He has built the resulting revue around the music of Deborah Abramson with whom he has worked in the past. To tie the twenty songs with lyrics by various composers (including Finn) there's a mostly fictional Abramson biographical narrative (tagged as "testimonials" and written by one of the performers, Chip Zien). However, since the performers are still working with scripts in hand this is very much a work in progress and I'm honoring the company's request to hold off on a regular review and do this brief report instead.

So what can you expect? Typical of any revue, these twenty songs have been culled from other shows -- most probably unfamiliar to Pittsfield audiences -- though there is a personalized finale, "Independence Day in Pittsfield" by The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee's Rachel Sheinkin. And typical of everything Barrington Stage does, even with one piano and a cobbled together connecting thread, count on Travels With My Discontent to be staged with the company's trademark penchant for giving a small budget production a generous dash of pizzazz

I'm unfamiliar with Ms. Abramson's work so even if I were reviewing this show, these are the sort of songs that are hard to evaluate after just one hearing. Naturally, I'm familiar, as you probably are as well with Mr. Finn's and Ms. Sheinkin's work. I also know and very much admired another listed collaborators, Peter Mills. Marco Polo, which he and Abramson worked on together and which is represented here with several songs. CurtainUp has reviewed several of thos talented composer/lyricist's musicals (Ilyria. . . Pursuit of Persephone. . . Iron Curtain). Any of these shows deserve additional lives. I therefore hope that one of them will show up either as a future Lab or Main Stage production.

In the meantime, the new Revue runs through August 6th and I look forward to the final offering which like Burnt Part Boys, is a book musical and though the musical team, Katie Baldwin, Julianne Davis and Gihieh Lee are unfamiliar to me, I have seen some excellent work Off-Off-Broadway by its young director, Jack Cummings III.

Music byDeborah Abramson Lyrics by Deborah Abramson, William Finn, Peter Mills, Rachel Sheinkin and Amanda Yesnowitz; testimonials by Chip Zien
Directed by William Finn
Cast: Charlie Brady Katie Clarke Megan Lawrence Chip Zien Barrington Stage, Stage ll: Musical Theatre Lab at Berkshire Atheneum, Pittsfield, MA
From July 26 -- August 6, 2006 Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave. , Pittsfield Set Design: Brian Prather
Costume Design: Alejo Vietti
Lighting Designer: D. Benjamin Courtney
Sound Design: Megan B. Henninger
Musical Numbers
I Am Deborah Abramson (Lyrics by William Finn) / All
Road Trip (Lyrics Amanda Yesnowitz) / Charlie, Chip
From the Top (Lyrics Peter Mills)/ Megan, All
Being Not Here (Lyrics by William Finn)/ All
Little Mikey(Lyrics by William Finn)/ Chip
I Love Television (Lyrics by William Finn) /Megan, All
Waiting to Be Won (Lyrics by Peter Mills)/ Katie
Blue Movie 147(Lyrics by William Finn) / Charlie
AmoAmasAmok(Lyrics by Peter Mills) / Chip
Children of the Heavenly Father
(Lyrics by Deborah Abramson) /Katie, All
Far and Wide (Lyrics by Peter Mills) / All
Gotta Start Small (Lyrics by Amanda Yesnowitz)/ Katie
Road Trip 2 (Lyrics by Amanda Yesnowitz)/ Charlie, Chip
How to Make Delicious Chocolate Pudding
(Lyrics by William Finn) / Megan
Ciliana (Lyrics by Deborah Abramson) / Katie
Mariela (Lyrics by Deborah Abramson) / Megan
The Essential Me (Lyrics by William Finn)/ Chip
Road Trip 3 (Lyrics Amanda Yesnowitz) /Charlie, Chip
Independence Day in Pittsfield (Lyrics Rachel Sheinkin)/ Megan, All

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