Sunday, October 28, 2018

Shivers—Young Professionals Company—NE Portland




              Buried Secrets

    This World Premiere musical, ghost story is written, directed and choreographed by Matthew B. Zrebski.  It is playing at the Y/P Studio of Oregon Children’s Theatre, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., through November 11th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org/yp-company

    One’s “salad days” are full of discoveries and angst now, especially with the conventions of social media.  Personal relationships are done from afar, via texting, e-mails, cell phones, and the many other distracting ways of communicating, preventing us from actually touching another human being, or even the outside world, for that matter.  We are, perhaps, like the characters in this play, existing in a Hell of our own making.

    For those of you that might want to put this in some context with familiar surroundings, it does have some common elements to the musical, “Rent,” with a band of like-folks railing against their smothering atmosphere; or, the short story/play, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” with a child’s descent into madness, perhaps; or, the thriller, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” about a group of teens that are hiding a tragic secret.  All relevant, in some ways, to this story.

    A girl, Vix (Averyl Hartje) is seemingly trapped in a closet in a school by an unknow intruder and her lifeline to the outside world is her cell phone, or is that the purpose of her calls?  An outcast student, Gailen (Isaac Ellingson), is seemingly trying to make contact with each member of this band of brothers/sisters but for what purpose?  And three sets of teens are trapped in a snowstorm and all getting mysterious messages and phone calls, revealing intimate secrets of their lives.  Who’s responsible…and why?

    The pairing of the students are Tala (Ella Carson), a very determined girl, who has a boyfriend, Lionel (David VanDyke), who wants to take their relationship to the “next level.”  Then, there is the gay drug dealer, Shea (Xavier Warner), who has a budding relationship with, Brock (Asher Ross), an emotionally, fragile individual.  And, finally, there is Ravyn (Julia Meyers), a popular girl in school who has formed a bond with Mindy (Kai Tomizawa), a girl going through more than one personal crisis in her life.

    In the end, they will all confront their fears, and secrets will be unearthed.  But, I cannot tell you more without being a spoiler.  Zrebski has written an extraordinary play with songs that give each person their moment to shine…and the do sparkle beautifully!  This is a story that could easily be sent to other educational institutes to be performed, as well as having a life as an Off-Broadway production.

    The set is simple but effective and the visuals (Lucas Welsh) add much to the production.  The acting and singing is first-rate (after all, they are Y/P students, who are always at the top of the class, in my book!).  The women, Carson, Meyers, Hartje and Tomizawa, especially, have powerful voices and nailed their songs.  This is a production with some very heavy material, zeroing in on the modern teens, so be aware of the frankness of these situations.

    And a special shout-out to Dani Baldwin, Education Director at OCT and Y/P, and her staff.  Her students, because of the learning they get here, are the most prepared, in my opinion, for not only a possible career in the Arts, but also Life itself.  They learn to work as a team and build self-confidence, all while groping and grasping for the Gold in a safe environment.  Even the far-off stars are not beyond their reach!

    I highly recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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